Soccer players are among the most amazing of athletes. Combining incredible skill, agility, strength and endurance during every match, they push themselves to the limits of physical capability – without using their hands. In so doing, however, they also place themselves in danger of injury on a regular basis.
“That’s why we need a clinical staff of 12,” jokes David Fevre, MSC, MCSP, SRP and Senior Physical Therapist for English Premier League Football (Soccer) Club, Blackburn Rovers, “Despite being in great shape – or maybe because they play so often at the extremes of their physical capabilities – injury is part of the game for elite soccer players. To help keep our 36 team members on the playing field we have a support staff that includes five chartered physiotherapists, three sports scientists, three massage therapists and a medical doctor. It’s a pretty large staff, even by British Premier League Soccer standards. But we feel that the more we can keep our best players healthy, the better the chance we’ll have to succeed. Fevre, who has served as a physical therapist for over 26 years, including a 14-year stint in the British Rugby Football League plus time at hospitals before joining Manchester United (1994-1999), incorporates an integrated approach to help keep his athletes from getting injured, and to get those who are hurt ready to return to action without significant risk of reinjury. He includes in his arsenal of exercise, weight training, nutritional education and sessions on equipment designed to improve muscular and cardiovascular strength and endurance such as cycles and treadmills.
“One piece of the equation I consider especially important is our Biodex Multi-Joint System,” states Fevre. “I really like it for the isokinetic capability, but I use it in the other modes as well. It is very useful as an exercise-based rehabilitation tool. I was always taught that exercise is the most important part of physio, and this is one of the few machines with a plug that actually provides exercise modality.”
According to Fevre, the Biodex Multi-Joint System is especially well suited to producing numerical data in terms of isolated muscle strength. The numbers generated during isokinetic tests, he explains, have significant meaning and serve as pointers to help show where an injured patient is in terms of stability control and muscular control, providing insight as to when a patient can safely progress to more functional activities or even return to play.
“Isokinetic testing, strengthening and rehabilitation,” says Fevre, “are for us very much a preparation phase in terms of getting ready for active rehabilitation related to the game. It continues on as we progress through the rehabilitation regime and to actually playing. After the player returns to the field, it is used as a follow-up and strengthening mechanism for one to two years following many types of injury. The system is especially well-suited for lower limb rehabilitation.”
Fevre also uses Biodex Multi-Joint System reports to produce baselines for his players at the start of each season, and as part of the medical evaluation process when new players are being evaluated for physical weaknesses or propensity toward specific injuries before being signed to contract. “We are one of the few British clubs that use isokinetic testing for initial evaluation,” reveals Fevre. “We feel such testing provides relative data on players we are about to hire. Elite soccer players are highly motivated to play and, in some instances, our isokinetic reports have indicated injuries about which a player hasn’t been forthcoming. Isokinetic testing can indicate a joint problem or muscular weakness. When you buy a new car,” continues Fevre, “you have somebody look at it. Same thing with professional soccer players – you want to make sure there are no hidden problems.”
In some instances, notes Fevre, contracts have been amended or reduced based on complete medical evaluations sparked by Biodex isokinetic reports. He notes that partial anterior cruciate tears don’t always show up on MRIs and that isokinetic testing also frequently reveals patellofemoral joint problems.
“There is a lot of risk, financially, to signing professional soccer players to significant contracts,” concludes Fevre. “You need to be sure each signing turns out to be an appropriate gamble so we examine many factors. The Biodex Multi-Joint System is a big help in the evaluation process. It helps us gather quantifiable information we can trust.”
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Biodex Medical Systems, Inc.
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Shirley, NY 11967
631-924-9000 , ext. 2281