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Researchers use data on FC Barcelona players to analyse the prognosis for healing from hamstring injuries

Published on 15.6.2022
Tampere University
kaksi eri joukkueisiin kuuluvaa miestä taistelee jalkapallosta
For the first time, researchers have obtained accurate information on how long it takes for different types of injuries at the back of the thigh to heal. The research data consisted of the hamstring injuries of FC Barcelona players in a 10-year period and their monitored recovery.

“We provide a healing prognosis for different types of hamstring muscle injuries,” says Professor Tero Järvinen of Tampere University in Finland who was a member of the international team of experts that studied the injuries.

“The study gave us the first accurate data on how long it takes for different types of hamstring injuries to heal. We found injuries that heal relatively quickly, but also injuries that have an exceptionally slow healing prognosis,” says Järvinen.

Hamstring injuries are common sports injuries especially in sports that require fast running, such as sprinting and ball games. Treating the injuries is very hard because the muscles have an exceptional anatomy.

Muscles are usually attached to the bone by a tendon at both ends, and this is also how the hamstring muscles attach. However, their tendon tissue continues into the muscle at both ends as a so-called central tendon. Thus, unusual muscle injuries can occur in the hamstring muscles in which the muscle becomes detached from the central tendon inside.

Injuries to the central tendon are most common in elite athletes. In high-energy injuries, the central tendon can even rupture.

“For this study, we analysed all hamstring injuries of FC Barcelona’s football players in a 10-year period. We systematically went through the patients’ magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings and followed up on their recovery,” Järvinen says.

The study is part of FC Barcelona’s and Professor Järvinen’s long-term scientific collaboration.

“FC Barcelona’s patient data is unique. All the injuries suffered by the players, rehabilitation data and return to the field have been diligently verified and preserved,” Järvinen explains.

“The club also aims to produce reliable scientific evidence on the treatment of sports injuries. They are committed to finding the best experts to discover the optimal treatment of sports injuries. Our close scientific collaboration will also continue in the future,” Järvinen adds.

The recent study was published in Sports Medicine, a leading publication in the field. Two Finnish orthopaedic surgeons, Docent Lasse Lempainen and Professor Tero Järvinen, participated in the study.

Valle, X., Mechó, S., Alentorn-Geli, E. et al. Return to Play Prediction Accuracy of the MLG-R Classification System for Hamstring Injuries in Football Players: A Machine Learning Approach. Sports Med (2022).

Photo: Unsplash / Jannik Skorna