Introduction. Sports injuries account for substantial morbidity and medical cost. To direct intervention, a population-based study of the causes and types of sports injuries was undertaken.
Method. An injury surveillance system was established at all trauma center hospitals that treat residents 10 to 19 years old in the District of Columbia and the Chief Medical Examiner's Office. Medical record abstractions were completed for those seen in an emergency department, admitted to the hospital, or who died from injury June 1996 through June 1998.
Findings. Seventeen percent (n = 2563) of all injuries occurred while participating in 1 of 6 sports (baseball/softball, basketball, biking, football, skating, and soccer) resulting in an event-based injury rate of 25.0 per 1000 adolescents or 25.0/1000 population year. Rates were higher in males for all sports. The most common mechanisms were falls (E880–888) and being struck by or against objects (E916–918). Hospitalization was required in 2% of visits and there were no deaths. Of those requiring hospitalization, 51% involved other persons, 12% were equipment-related, and 8% involved poor field/surface conditions. Of all baseball injuries, 55% involved ball or bat impact often of the head. Basketball injuries included several injuries from striking against the basketball pole or rim or being struck by a falling pole or backboard. Biking injuries requiring admission included 2 straddle injuries onto the bike center bar and collision with motor vehicles. Of all football injuries, 48 (7%) involved being struck by an opponent's helmet and 63 (9%) involved inappropriate field conditions including falls on or against concrete, glass, or fixed objects. In soccer there were 4 goal post injuries and a large proportion of intracranial injuries. There were 51 probable or clear assaults during sports and an additional 30 to 41 injuries from baseball bat assaults.
Conclusions. Many sports including noncontact sports involved injuries of the head suggesting the need for improved head protection. Injuries involving collisions with others and assaults point to the need for supervision and enforcement of safety rules. The 16% of sports injury visits and 20% of hospitalizations related to equipment and environmental factors suggest that at least this proportion of injury may be amenable to preventive strategies. Design change may be warranted for prevention of equipment-related injuries. The many injuries involving inappropriate sports settings suggest the need for and use of available and safe locations for sports.
- Received May 16, 1999.
- Accepted September 13, 1999.
- Copyright © 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics