In a new survey done by Safe Kids Worldwide, the number of youth sports injuries has climbed to 1.35 million per year. In short, that means that a young athlete will visit an emergency about every 25 seconds with a sports-related injury. Even more daunting is that these injuries aren’t just bumps and bruises.
More common today are concussions, fractures, strains, contusions, sprains and abrasions, and it’s costing over $935 million a year. The kids are usually between the ages of six and 19, and according to the report that was released Tuesday, the numbers are enough to cause concern among some groups.
President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, Kate Carr says that many of the injuries are preventable because they are predictable. The group used US Consumer Product Safety Commission data to take note of pediatric sports injuries in relation to 14 commonly played sports. They included basketball, football, cheerleading and soccer. The report found that over 46.5 million kids played team sports during 2011.
The report concludes that, in 2012 alone, 12 percent of all emergency room visits, or 163,670, were due to a concussion. Nearly half of those cases were found in kids that were between the ages of 12 and 15. Research has found that younger athletes take longer to heal than their older counterparts after experiencing a concussion because of growing bodies. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries and should not be taken lightly because a second one later in life can cause additional problems.
Previous studies have found that, in sports that both girls and boys play, it’s the girls that have the higher rate of concussions. In some sports, the rate is about four percent higher for girls than boys, and other sports tend to go even higher. That’s a troubling statistic to many.
While the number of emergency room visits in the report might seem high, Neeru Jayanthi, a sports medicine physician with Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago, has said that the real numbers are likely even higher. Many kids visit urgent care centers, their regular health care provider or sports medicine clinics. There are also many overuse injuries to consider, of which an estimated 25 percent, wind up as serious. Tendons, joints, and bones can suffer overuse when the same movements are done too often, or too hard without enough time to recover.
Prevention of these injuries includes allowing the body to rest, as well as adding strengthening and preventative exercises. Children should also be taught proper techniques of moves to avoid injuries. Additionally, children should be encouraged to tell a parent or coach about their injuries, to prevent them from becoming worse.