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Sports Injuries Statistics

How frequently do sports injuries occur?

In the U.S., about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports. More than 3.5 million injuries each year, which cause some loss of time of participation, are experienced by these participants. Almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related injuries. By far, the most common injuries are sprains and strains.

Obviously, some sports are more dangerous than others. For example, contact sports, such as football, can be expected to result in a higher number of injuries than a noncontact sport, such as swimming. However, all types of sports have a potential for injury, whether from the trauma of contact with other players or from overuse or misuse of a body part.

Injury statistics and incidence rates

The following statistics are from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Injury rates:

  • Approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents ages 14 and younger get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities.

  • Although death from a sports injury is rare, the leading cause of death from a sports-related injury is a brain injury.

  • Sports and recreational activities contribute to approximately 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents.

  • The majority of head injuries sustained in sports or recreational activities occur during bicycling, skateboarding, or skating incidents.

  • More than 775,000 children and adolescents ages 14 and younger are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.

Where and when:

  • Playground, sports, and bicycle-related injuries occur most often among young children, between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. Bicycle- and sports-related injuries also affect older children and adolescents, in addition to overexertion.

  • The highest rates of injury occur in sports that involve contact and collisions.

  • More severe injuries occur during individual sports and recreational activities.

  • Most organized sports-related injuries (62 percent) occur during practice.

Who:

  • More than 30 million high school children participate in organized sports.

  • Children between 5 and 14 years of age account for almost half (40 percent) of sports-related injuries for all age groups.

  • More than 775,000 children participating in sports activities are injured each year, and one in four injuries is considered serious.

  • Children who are less developed than a more mature child of the same age and weight are at increased risk for injury.

  • Sports-related injury severity increases with age.

  • Before puberty, girls suffer more sports injuries than boys.

  • During puberty, boys suffer more injuries more severely than girls.

  • Children who are just beginning a sport or activity are at greater risk for injury.

Types of sports and recreational activities

Consider these estimated injury statistics for 2009 from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Basketball. More than 170,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for basketball-related injuries.

  • Baseball and softball. Nearly 110,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries. Baseball also has the highest fatality rate among sports for children ages 5 to 14, with three to four children dying from baseball injuries each year.

  • Bicycling. More than 200,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries.

  • Football. Almost 215,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for football-related injuries, with nearly 10,000 of those hospitalized as a result of their injuries.

  • Ice hockey. More than 20,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ice hockey-related injuries.

  • In-line and roller skating. More than 47,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for in-line skating-related injuries.

  • Skateboarding. More than 66,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for skateboarding-related injuries, with more than 4,500 children hospitalized as a result of their injuries.

  • Sledding and tobogganing. More than 16,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries.

  • Snow skiing and snowboarding. More than 25,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for snow boarding and snow skiing-related injuries.

  • Soccer. About 88,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for soccer-related injuries.

  • Trampolines. About 65,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for trampoline-related injuries.

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