Athletics-related injuries on increase in US adolescents

By Helen Albert

Injuries from athletic sports such as sprinting, long-distance running, and hurdles, are on the increase in children and adolescents, report US researchers.

"Participation in track is a great way to encourage children and adolescents to remain physically active," commented study author Lara McKenzie (The Ohio State University, Columbus) in a press statement.

"However, the increase in injuries corresponding with the increased participation in this activity suggests we need to do a better job of preventing track-related injuries among our young athletes," she added.

The study, published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine, found that the annual number of athletics or track-related injuries in 10-18 year olds increased by 36.3% from 7702 in 1991 to 10,496 in 2008.

The most common types of injury over this period were sprains and/or strains, at 52%, and fractures or dislocations, at 17%.

Of sprinting, cross-country, running, hurdles, relays, stretching and/or drills, and "other" activities, the most common activity at time of injury was running, at 59%, followed by hurdles, at 23%.

There was a gender difference in the most common injuries sustained, with boys being more likely to sustain pelvic injuries and girls ankle injuries. The students' age also influenced the type of injury they had.

"We found that the most commonly injured body parts varied across activity and across age group. For instance, elementary students were more likely to sustain upper extremity injuries while high school students were more likely to sustain lower leg injuries," said McKenzie.

"With this in mind, track-related injury prevention efforts may need to be tailored by activity for different age groups in order to most effectively address the injury concerns the athletes are facing."

Common injury types also varied by sport. For example, hurdling was more likely to result in a head or upper extremity injury and sprinting in an injury to the pelvis or upper leg.

"Given the increased participation and corresponding increase in track-related injuries, more research is needed to determine how best to prevent these injuries," concludes the team.

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  1. JD JD United States says:

    Good study to bring attention to the fact of the increasing injuries in running sports.  In light of the increased pressure on our health care system it would be interesting to see the financial impact of the cost related to such injuries especially if they are preventable.  

    Overuse running injuries are preventable in most cases and we need to find a way to effectively educate all of the individuals involved to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the potential injury before it happens.  It is fair to say that a Certified Athletic Trainer who has been working with running athletes is in the best position to provide both the education on prevention to the runners, parents, and coaches, as well as provide the treatment to assist the athlete for a rapid recovery.  This also includes working with the entire sports medicine team including a qualified physician.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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