Youth Football Injuries on the Rise, Study Finds

Researchers say more efforts must be made to protect young athletes

WEDNESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- New data shows that youth football injuries are on the rise.

The annual number of football injuries among players aged 6 to 17 who were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments rose 27 percent over 18 years, from 274,094 in 1990 to 346,772 in 2007, the report finds.

During the study period, there were an estimated 5.25 million football-related injuries among youngsters in this age group, according to the researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"We found that nearly 2,000 pediatric and adolescent football-related injuries were treated every day in emergency departments during football season," study co-author Lara McKenzie, a principal investigator at Nationwide's Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a hospital news release. "We need to do a better job of preventing football-related injuries among our young athletes."

The most common types of injuries were sprains and strains (31 percent), fractures and dislocations (28 percent), and soft tissue injuries (24 percent). The researchers also found that there were 8,631 football-related concussions per year.

Players aged 12 to 17 accounted for the majority of injuries (78 percent), and were more likely than younger players to sustain a concussion or be injured at school. Children aged 6 to 11 were more likely to sustain lacerations and were often injured at home.

"Prevention and treatment of concussions are the focus of many discussions at every level of play -- from the junior level all the way up to the National Football League. Our data shows that young athletes are at risk for concussions," McKenzie said. "Every day during football season, an average of fifty-seven 6- to 17-year-olds are treated in U.S. emergency departments for football-related concussions. The potential long-term consequences of this type of injury make this an unacceptably high number."

The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers football injury prevention tips.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Nationwide Children's Hospital, news release, April 12, 2011

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