A new study conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that an estimated 5.25 million football-related injuries among children and adolescents between 6 and 17 years of age were treated in U.S. emergency departments between 1990 and 2007. The annual number of football-related injuries increased 27 percent during the 18-year study period, jumping from 274,094 in 1990 to 346,772 in 2007.
"We found that nearly 2,000 pediatric and adolescent football-related injuries were treated every day in emergency departments during football season," said Lara McKenzie, PhD, study co-author and principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "We need to do a better job of preventing football-related injuries among our young athletes."
According to the study, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, the most common injuries were sprains and strains (31 percent), fractures and dislocations (28 percent) and soft tissue injuries (24 percent). In addition, concussions accounted for 8,631 injuries each year. Adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old suffered a greater proportion of the injuries (78 percent), and were more likely to sustain a concussion or be injured at school when compared to younger players. Children aged 6 to 11 years old 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," said Dr. McKenzie, also a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "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."