In “past, present, future”, we ask clinical or academic experts to reflect on selected Sports & Exercise Medicine topics. Today Carolyn Emery on Injury Prevention in Youth Sports.


Tell us more about yourself.

I am a physiotherapist and epidemiologist. My research program focuses on concussion, injury prevention, and the prevention of consequences of injuries in youth sport. I am the Chair of the Sports Injury Prevention Research Centre in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary. My commitment and passion in the field are driven by students’ engagement that I have the privilege of mentoring and the impact that our research and knowledge translation activities can have on reducing injuries in youth sport.


What was hip and happening 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, we were validating injury surveillance methodologies across youth sport contexts in partnership with clinical and sports communities and schools. Our focus in the field of injury prevention in youth sport was examining injury risk factors and developing and evaluating sport-specific injury prevention strategies in youth sport through cohort studies and randomized controlled trials. We were also evaluating rule changes in youth sport and mechanisms of injury through video analysis.  Targets for injury prevention in youth sport included rule changes, personal protective equipment, and neuromuscular training strategies.


What are we doing now?

With increasing attention to the public health impact of injuries and concussions in youth sport, we are targeting concussion-specific prevention strategies, examining longer-term consequences of injuries and concussions, and developing strategies to prevent consequences of injuries in youth sport.  The field focuses on evaluating the scale-up and implementation of prevention strategies in youth sport in real-world settings. A multimodal approach to evaluating mechanisms of injury and concussion and prevention strategies in youth sport now combines video analysis, wearable technologies and injury and concussion surveillance. We have a commitment to maximizing youth sport participation and performance in the developing youth athlete through optimal approaches to preventing injuries across all levels of sport participation.


Where do you think we will be 10 years from now?

In 10 years, evidence-informed strategies for preventing injuries and concussions in youth sport will be standard of practice in all school and community sport settings. We will use novel technologies and wearable technologies to optimize sport policy, equipment recommendations, and training strategies to maximize safety across all youth sport contexts. We will have innovative and efficient approaches to injury and concussion prevention, detection, diagnosis, prognosis in youth. Further, we will have strong, multifaceted evidence-informed strategies to reduce the consequences of injuries and concussions in youth sport through treatment strategies. As epidemiologists, we like to think we can predict the future. However, novel technologies and creative transdisciplinary thinking will continue to raise the bar in our field in ways we cannot predict.


Would you like to learn more on this topic? Here is a selection of publications on Injuries in Youth Athletes in our journal.
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