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Study finds sports to be top cause of bone, muscle injuries in kids

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

DES MOINES - Bicycles, basketball, football and roller sports top the list of eight recreational activities with the largest number of musculoskeletal injuries among children ages 5-14 years, the Health News service of Des Moines University - Osteopathic Medical Center (DMU) reports.

A study scheduled for the November/December 2001 Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAACOS) reported that U.S. hospital emergency rooms, doctor's offices and clinics treated an estimated 2.2 million children's bone fractures, dislocations and muscle injuries related to these eight recreational activities in 2000.

For the one study, co-author John M. Purvis, M.D., and colleague examined new data supplied to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"Leading the musculoskeletal injury list are bicycles with an estimated 415,000 injuries among 5-to 14-year-olds; followed by basketball with 407,000; football, 389,000; and roller sports, 297,000," says Dr. Purvis, clinical assistant professor, ortheopaedic surgery and rehabilitation, University of Mississippi Medical School.

Roller sports - which include inline skates, skateboards, scooters and roller skates - demand operator experience and development to prevent injury. Dr. Purvis said the new lightweight versions of foot-powered scooters with low friction wheels have been associated with a dramatic increase in injuries for the year 2000.

Fifth on the bone and muscle injury list is the playground with 284,000 injuries. Soccer is sixth with 185,000; baseball/softball is seventh, 160,000; and trampolines eighth at 135,000.

"Among more than 20 recreational activities, the greatest number of fractures occurred with bicycles, playgrounds and roller sports," said Dr. Purvis. "These three sports each had more than 125,000 fractures in the 5-to 14-year-old age group in 2000. Next in line was football, with more than 100,000 fractures."

Football also scored high in injuries in another sports injury study.

Tara Dortch of the University of Alabama at Birmingham THINK FIRST injury prevention program reported that an estimated 182,000 children under 15 are injured every year playing football. Twenty percent of high school players sustain some type of head injury.

Dr. Purvis said that the majority of musculoskeletal injuries in contact sports involve sprains/strains and contusions. Because their muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons are still growing, young athletes are more susceptible to injury.

To prevent injury in all sports it is important to include a proper warm-up, stretching, conditioning and use of protective equipment.

"Many injuries could be prevented if current safety guidelines and protective equipment were used," Dr. Purvis said. "Patient education, research, community programs and regulatory efforts that promote safe play will help reduce children's sports injuries."

For more information on preventing sports injuries, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' Web site, www.aaos.org. to download prevention fact sheets.



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