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Efficacy of a Neuromuscular Warm-up Program in Reducing the Risk of School Sports Injury among Chinese Children: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial.

BACKGROUND: Children who participate in sports have reduced cardiovascular risk, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. However, sports participation also comes with an inherent risk of sports-related injuries.

PURPOSE: To examine the efficacy of a school-based neuromuscular warm-up program (NWP) in reducing the risk of school sports injury (SSI) in children and the impact of different levels of compliance on the effectiveness of the program.

STUDY DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.

METHODS: A total of 421 students from grades 4 to 6 at a single school (age range, 9-14 years) were randomized by grade to an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group participated in a 13-week simplified (8-minute) NWP designed to reduce SSI risk. The control group participated in a standard warm-up of the same length and duration. Exposure, compliance, and injury data were collected via a weekly form. The primary injury outcome was all SSIs. Secondary outcomes included injuries from physical education (PE) and non-PE class, upper and lower extremity injuries, other location injuries, and time-loss injuries. A Poisson regression model using an intent-to-treat analysis was performed to estimate the incidence rate ratio (IRR) for all injuries in the intervention group compared with the control group. To examine the influence of level of compliance, we divided the intervention group into low compliance (participation 1-2 times/wk) and high compliance (participation >2 times/wk) then compared the difference on injury rates (IRs) between these groups and the control group.

RESULTS: There were significant differences between the intervention and control groups regarding all SSIs (IRR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.23-0.96; P = .038), PE class injuries (IRR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.14-0.99; P = .048), and other location injuries (IRR, 0.20; 95% CI, 0.05-0.82; P = .025). The compliance analysis revealed that although the low-compliance group was able to reduce the risk of SSIs (IR, 4.43; 95% CI, 2.49-6.37) compared with the control group (IR, 7.60; 95% CI, 5.61-9.59), the high-compliance group produced a better effect in reducing the SSI risk (IR, 1.80; 95% CI, 0.04-3.56).

CONCLUSION: The simplified NWP used in this study was efficacious in the reduction of SSIs in children.

REGISTRATION: ChiCTR2100043875 (Chinese Clinical Trial Registry; https://www.chictr.org.cn).

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