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Child Sports Injuries

Child and Adolescent Sports Injuries

More than 38 million children and adolescents participate in some form of organized sport or outdoor activity. Out of those 38 million, more than 3 million children are injured each year.

CHILD SPORTS INJURY STATISTICS

Statistics below provided by the John Hopkins Medicine:

  • Approximately, 3.5 million children and adolescents ages 14 and under get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
  • Each year, more than 775,000 children and adolescents ages 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms for sports-related injuries.
  • Children ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 40% of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals.
  • Death from a sports injury is rare; the leading cause of a sports-related death is a brain injury.
  • Approximately 21% of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and teens are attributed to sports and recreational activities.

CHILD SPORTS AND RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES WITH HIGH INJURY RATES

While contact sports may be expected to have the highest number of injuries, all sports pose some risk for potential injury or trauma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the following sports are associated with child injuries:

  • Football – Each year, doctors treat an estimated 389,000 musculoskeletal injuries due to football in children 5 to 14 years of age (AAOS).
  • Basketball – Approximately half a million children are sent to the ER in each year for basketball-related injuries (CPSC).
  • Baseball and Softball – About 108,300 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year from baseball and softball related injuries (AAP).
  • Bicycling – In children under 14, bicycling results in three times the number of hospital visits for suspected head injuries than football (CDC).
  • Cheerleading – Among girls, cheerleading is the single most dangerous activity among all sports and recreational pursuits (CPSC).
  • Skateboarding – Skateboarding injuries cause about 50,000 visits to emergency departments every year (AAP).
  • Trampolines – Children ages 6 to 14 comprise almost two-thirds of the hospital emergency room injuries for trampoline accidents (CPSC).
SIX MOST COMMON SPORTS-RELATED INJURIES IN CHILDREN
  1. Sprains and Strains – Sprains and strains comprise a majority of sport-related injuries. A sprain is an injury to a ligament while a strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon.
  2. Concussions – From 2001 to 2005, more than 500,000 children between the ages of 8 and 13 years of age were sent to the emergency room for concussions. Approximately half of these visits were a result of concussions related to organized sports.
  3. Overuse Injuries – Experts say up to 50% of all injuries seen in pediatric sports medicine are related to overuse. Overuse injuries can cause damage to a growing child’s hard and soft tissues and cause problems (like arthritis) in later life.
  4. Traumatic Brain InjuriesTraumatic brain injuries are the number one cause of sports-related deaths in children. An estimated 2 out of 5 traumatic brain injuries among children are associated with participation in sports and recreational activities.
  5. Heat-induced Illness – There are several forms of heat-induced illness including heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stress, and heat stroke. The most dangerous of these is heat stroke, which occurs when the body temperature rises above 104.˚ Heat stroke can be deadly.
  6. Growth Plate Injuries – The growth plate is the area of developing tissues at the end of certain bones in growing children and adolescents. Growth plate injuries (GPIs) can cause lasting damage to developing bone and tissue and can permanently affect the growth and development of young athletes.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHILD FROM SPORTS RELATED INJURIES

In order to reduce sports-related injuries, parents should communicate with their children and be on the look out for any signs of pain or injury. Additionally, parents should work with their children in a proactive manner to prevent potential injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following.

  • Take Some Time Off. Plan to have at least 1 day a week and 1 month a year free from training for a particular sport. This will give the body time to recover and help prevent injuries that result from over-exertion and overuse. This does not mean remove yourself from physical activity all together – just try something different.
  • Wear Proper Safety Equipment. Player should not only wear safety equipment, but they should also ensure the equipment fits properly. Protective gear such as mouthpieces, helmets, face guards, and protective cups serve an important purpose and should be worn during all games and practices.
  • Take Time to Stretch. Stretching exercises before and after physical activity can help prevent pulled muscles and pain. Stretching should also be incorporated into daily fitness plans to help increase flexibility and reduce risk of muscle injuries.
  • Use Proper Technique. Coaches and parents should reinforce the importance of using proper technique when a child is participating in sports. Proper techniques are meant to improve a players effectiveness while reducing risk of injury.
  • Take BreaksResting periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat stroke and heat related illnesses.
  • Play Safe. Coaches and parents should enforce strict rules concerning safe play. Spearing in football, headfirst sliding in baseball and softball, and checking from behind in hockey can result in significant injuries and pain.
  • Do Not Play Through Pain. Pain is not “all in the head.” Pain is your brain telling you that there is something physically wrong with your body. Playing through persistent or serious pain can exacerbate an existing injury resulting in longer recovery times or permanent damage.
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