Youth sports injuries account for nearly 3 million hospital emergency visits each year. While organized athletic programs offer many benefits for children, the incidence of injury is alarming.
Fifty-nine percent of kids between 6 and 17 participating in sports (American Sports Data, 2005; National Survey of Children’s Health, 2005). Coaches and parents can make sports safer by understanding the causes of injuries and how to prevent them.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 30 million children participate in athletics in the United States. Most young athletes will experience minor bruises, strains, and sprains, but the statistics reveal serious safety concerns:
See Stop Sports Injuries for more statistics and watch this video:
Among athletes ages 5 to 14, football was at the top of the sport injury list:
Since 2000, 5 x the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players occurred.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported that of the 46.5 million children who played team sports in 2011, pediatric sports injuries related to 14 common sports activities, including football, cheerleading, soccer and basketball.
In 2012, 12% of all ER visits (163,670) involved a concussion, the equivalent of 1 every 3 minutes. Nearly half (47%) were in kids ages 12 to 15.
See Youth Sports Injuries by Michelle Healy for more.
Concussions are most prevalent in contact sports, such football and soccer. The graphic below (Mark Nowlin, Seattle Times) explains what happens to the brain when an athletes sustains a hard blow to the head.
The CDC provides excellent resources for preventing concussions and traumatic head injuries for young athletes. Improved construction and required use of helmets in contact sports has resulted in greater safety.
Overly intense activity has contributed to the dramatic increase in overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, tendinitis, and osteochondral injuries of the joint surface. However, these were rarely seen when children spent more time engaging in free play.
The risk factors for overuse injuries:
Injury prevention strategies:
See Safe Kids Worldwide and the STOP Sports Injury Campaign (below) more resources.