Sports Injuries Statistics

How frequently do sports injuries occur?

In the United States, about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports, and more than 3.5 million injuries each year, which cause some loss of time of participation, are experienced by the participants. Almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related injuries. By far, the most common injuries are sprains and strains.

Obviously, some sports are more dangerous than others. For example, contact sports such as football can be expected to result in a higher number of injuries than a non-contact sport such as swimming. However, all types of sports have a potential for injury, whether from the trauma of contact with other players or from overuse or misuse of a body part.

Injury statistics and incidence rates:

The following statistics are the latest available from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

Injury rates:

  • Approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents ages 14 and under get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities.

  • Although death from a sports injury is rare, the leading cause of death from a sports-related injury is a brain injury.

  • Sports and recreational activities contribute to approximately 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents.

  • The majority of head injuries sustained in sports or recreational activities occur during bicycling, skateboarding, or skating incidents.

  • More than 775,000 children and adolescents ages 14 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.

Where and when:

  • Playground, sports, and bicycle-related injuries occur most often among young children, between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. Bicycle- and sports-related injuries also affect older children and adolescents, in addition to overexertion.

  • The highest rates of injury occur in sports that involve contact and collisions.

  • More severe injuries occur during individual sports and recreational activities.

  • Most organized sports-related injuries (62 percent) occur during practice.

Who:

  • More than 30 million high school children participate in organized sports.

  • Children between 5 and 14 years of age account for almost half (40 percent) of sports-related injuries for all age groups.

  • More than 775,000 children participating in sports activities are injured each year, and one in four injuries is considered serious.

  • Children who are less developed than a more mature child of the same age and weight are at increased risk for injury.

  • Sports-related injury severity increases with age.

  • Before puberty, girls suffer more sports injuries than boys.

  • During puberty, boys suffer more injuries more severely than girls.

  • Children who are just beginning a sport or activity are at greater risk for injury.

Types of sports and recreational activities:

Consider the following statistics:

  • basketball

    More than 200,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for basketball-related injuries.

  • baseball and softball

    Nearly 117,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries. Baseball also has the highest fatality rate among sports for children ages 5 to 14, with three to four children dying from baseball injuries each year.

  • bicycling

    Nearly 275,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries.

  • football

    Almost 194,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for football-related injuries.

  • gymnastics

    Nearly 23,500 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for gymnastics related injuries.

  • ice skating

    Nearly 10,600 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ice skating-related injuries.

  • in-line and roller skating

    More than 38,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for in-line skating-related injuries.

  • skateboarding

    More than 61,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for skateboarding-related injuries.

  • sledding

    More than 15,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries.

  • snow skiing/snowboarding

    More than 29,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for snow boarding and snow skiing-related injuries.

  • soccer

    About 75,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for soccer-related injuries.

  • trampolines

    Nearly 80,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for trampoline-related injuries.

  • ice hockey

    According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, over 18,000 young people under the age of 18 were treated in Emergency Departments for ice hockey-related injuries in 2001-2002.

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