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Information about a piece of news titled Arnhild Bakken- periodic health evaluation (screening) of professional football players

Arnhild Bakken- periodic health evaluation (screening) of professional football players


Arnhild is a PhD student (research fellow) at Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center. The aim of her PhD project is to investigate the benefits of periodic health evaluation (PHE) of professional male football players with a focus on musculoskeletal screening.

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The project is a collaboration with Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital in Doha, Qatar.

Arnhild is a physiotherapist from Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh in Scotland (2003), and holds a master degree in Sports Physiotherapy from Norwegian School of Sport Science from 2011.

She is a former cross-country skier and handball player.

The study was performed at Aspetar in Doha in 2013-2015 and is supervised by Roald Bahr, Karim M Khan and Erik Witvrouw.

A PHE can detect current health conditions

The purpose of the first published study from this project was to assess health conditions detected by a comprehensive PHE in professional male football players.

A total of 558 professional football players in Qatar completed a PHE prior to the 2013 or 2014 seasons including history, general medical (including blood test), cardiovascular (12-lead ECG and echocardiography), and a musculoskeletal examination, including a specific test battery targeting lower extremity strength and flexibility.

A PHE detects at least one health condition in 95.5% of players

The findings demonstrated a high prevalence of players with a general medical condition (Vitamin D deficiency) whereas the musculoskeletal examination detected a musculoskeletal condition requiring follow-up (e.g. physiotherapy, prevention programmes) in 32.3% of players (link to BJSM publication).

Can a musculoskeletal assessment (screening) identify the athlete at risk of injury?

Functional movement tests and muscle strength testing are one of the most utilized screening tools to detect and prevent injury risk. In the last part of this PhD project, we aimed to investigate the predictive value of these tests.

Large intra-individual variation in 9+ test from season-to-season

Firstly, Arnhild and colleagues investigated the season-to-season variability of a widely used functional movement test, Nine-plus screening battery (9+) among 220 QSL football players. The results demonstrated a substantial variability in the 9+ test between two consecutive seasons, irrespective of injury and severity.

Given the large variability, it suggests that the 9+ total score inter-season variation is too large for the 9+ to detect change attributed to injury or clinical interventions (link to BJSM publication).

The predictive value of the 9+ test and muscle strength tests

The final two studies of this project aims to investigate the association between the functional movement test 9+ and muscle strength tests and lower extremity injury.

In total 554 professional male QSL football players underwent comprehensive musculoskeletal examination prior to the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons. The results from these studies are expected spring 2017. 

Arnhild is expected to defend her PhD autumn 2017.

Read more about Arnhild Bakken.