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New Study Seeks to Address Youth Sport Injury Epidemic


In pursuit of success and college scholarships, children may feel pressured to specialize in a single sport beginning at a young age; however, researchers warn that this kind of approach to athletics can result in increased risk of injury with little reward.

Athletes Who Specialize in One Sport are Almost Twice as Likely to Suffer an Injury

In a study of 1,200 young athletes, researchers with Loyola University found that those who specialized in a single sport were 70 to 93 percent more likely to be injured than children who planned multiple sports.

Researchers believe this is likely due to overuse injuries. These injuries occur when a muscle or joint suffers repeated trauma due to training or technique errors. Since overuse injuries are subtle at first, they can be difficult to treat.

Additionally, researchers found that young athletes who were pushed to specialize in a single sport from a young age were more likely to burn out on sports before college. In fact, 88 percent of all athletes surveyed in a 2013 study said they played multiple sports as a child.

Researchers are now advising parents let kids focus on the fun, competition, and teamwork of sports as a whole rather than limiting them to a specific sport.

Child Sport Injuries Statistics

  • Roughly 3.5 million children ages 14 and under are injured while playing sports every year.
  • Sports and recreational activities are responsible for more than 20 percent of all traumatic brain injuries suffered by children.
  • The majority of injuries, roughly 62 percent, occurred during practice.
  • Baseball has the highest fatality rate among sports for children between the ages five and 14, with three to four deaths reported every year.

Other Methods of Preventing Sports-Related Injuries

In addition to playing a variety of sports, the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends the following:

  • Wear proper safety gear
  • Take time to stretch
  • Practice good technique
  • Take breaks
  • Play safe
  • Never play through pain

 

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