WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
July 26, 2007 -- Two new studies highlight the risk of youth sports injuries
that student athletes may experience on the playing field.
One of the new studies focuses on football injuries in high school and
college football players. The other study tracks traumatic head injuries in
Sports injuries can do more than sideline a player for a season. Some
injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, can have effects that last a
The bottom line: Don't play hurt, and don't try to shake off an injury to
get back in the game. Seek medical attention instead.
The new study on football injuries appears in The American Journal of
Football is the top scorer when it comes to racking up sport-related
injuries, according to the study. But high school and college players may face
very different injury risks.
Researchers found high school football players suffered more than half a
million injuries nationwide during the 2005-2006 season. And they were more
likely to suffer season-ending injuries, such as fractures and concussions,
than those who play collegiate football.
But college football players were nearly twice as likely to become injured
during practice or a game compared with high school players.
Football is one of the most popular sports in the U.S. and is played by more
than 1 million high school athletes and 60,000 collegiate athletes.
Previous studies have shown that football has nearly twice the injury rate
as the next most popular sport, basketball. Yet researchers say this is the
first study to compare injuries among high school and collegiate football
players based on a national sample of more 100 high schools and 55
The study found four out of every 1,000 high school football exposures
resulted in an injury compared with eight out of every 1,000 collegiate
But high school football players suffered a greater proportion of serious,
season-ending injuries like broken bones and concussions, which accounted for
about 10% of all injuries among high school players.
Other findings of the study include:
“While football does have a high rate of injuries, injuries don’t have to be
just part of the game,” says researcher Christy Collins, MA, research associate
at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Columbus Children’s
Research Institute, in a news release. “There are ways to reduce the number and
severity of football injuries through targeted interventions.
“Because we observed high levels of ankle and knee injuries, we recommend
increased conditioning of ankles and knees and rule changes aimed at protecting
these vulnerable body sites. As most of the injuries to these regions were due
to ligament sprains, targeted stretching exercises may also be beneficial.”
The second study on sports injuries comes from the CDC.
The study shows that children and teens aged 5-18 account for nearly 60% of
people treated for sports-related traumatic brain injuries at U.S. hospitals
from 2001 to 2005.
That translates to almost 135,000 kids and teens in that age range who went
to emergency departments due to sports-related brain injuries during the years
Activities associated with the greatest number of those emergency department
visits were bicycling, football, basketball, playground activities, and soccer,
according to the CDC.
The findings, which come from a U.S. hospital database, don't show whether
the patients were wearing helmets while biking or playing football.
The CDC urges athletes, parents, and coaches to seek medical care for any
brain injury, even those that seem relatively mild, due to the risk of
Athletes shouldn't return to play without approval from a doctor or health
official, the CDC also notes.
"These injuries are very serious and should never be ignored," says
CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH, in a CDC news release.
SOURCES: Shankar, P. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, August
2007; vol 35: 1295-1303. CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,
July 27, 2007; vol 56: pp 733-737. News release, Columbus Children’s Hospital.
News release, CDC.
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