New Injury Rate Statistics for High School Athletes Highlight Need for Increased Prevention Efforts

In a new study, published in the September issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine (AJSM), researchers examined severe injuries by various sports, gender and injury area.

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Future studies should focus on risk factors and developing prevention interventions.

Rosemont, IL (Vocus) September 1, 2009

With more and more kids participating in sports, injuries are on the rise -an estimated two million occurring each year, resulting in 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations. In a new study, published in the September issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine (AJSM), researchers examined severe injuries by various sports, gender and injury area.

"Other studies have shown injury rates by sport, however very few studies have highlighted the severity of injuries per sport. Our research illustrated severe injuries occurring most frequently in football. In addition, girls seemed to suffer more severe injuries playing basketball than boys," said Dawn Comstock, PhD, author and assistant professor at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Researchers captured injury data during the 2005-2007 school years from 100 nationally representative U.S. high schools. Eligible schools had a National Athletic Trainer's Association (NATA) affiliated certified athletic trainer (ATC) report and categorize injury details into the High School RIO (Reporting Information Online) injury surveillance system. Information was collected for nine sports: boys' football, boys' and girls' soccer, girls' volleyball, boys' and girls' basketball, boys' wrestling, boys' baseball and girls' softball. Severe injury was defined as any injury that resulted in a loss of more than 21 days of sports participation.

According to the study, severe injuries accounted for 14.9% of all high school sports-related injuries. After football injuries, wrestling, girls' basketball and girls' soccer maintained the highest levels of injury. Among directly comparable sports (soccer, basketball, and baseball/softball), girls sustained a higher severe injury rate than boys.

There were also patterns in injury sites with the knee sustaining a severe injury nearly 30 percent of the time along with the ankle (12.3%) and shoulder (10.9%). Additionally, five percent of the severe injuries recorded were a direct result of an illegal player activity, such as tripping or spear tackling.

"Finding ways to decrease the incidence and severity of sports-related injuries is critical to keeping kids playing sports long-term and reaping the benefits that organized athletics provides. Preventing these types of severe injuries is especially important to minimize health care costs both on the family and on the health care system itself," said Comstock. "Future studies should focus on risk factors and developing prevention interventions."

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) is a world leader in sports medicine education, research, communication and fellowship, and includes national and international orthopaedic sports medicine leaders. The Society works closely with many other sports medicine specialists, including athletic trainers, physical therapists, family physicians, and others to improve the identification, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports injuries. For more information about AJSM visit http://www.ajsm.org or contact Lisa Weisenberger at lisa(at)aossm(dot)org or 847-292-4900.

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