Youth Soccer = 123,000 ER Visits A Year

Don’t you love sensationalist headlines, even when they’re technically accurate? I could have made it even worse talking about 16 million ER visits … over a 13 year period. :)

I recently stumbled across an article talking about a recent study of injury rates for youth soccer players and it had some interesting tidbits. The study, published in the February issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at injury rates for kids playing soccer, both organized and unorganized, and they came up with some statistics (scroll down about 1/3 to reach the actual article):

For the study, Collins and her colleagues examined data from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which is made up of 100 nationally representative hospital emergency departments.

They found that just under 1.6 million children between the ages of 2 and 18 sustained soccer injuries serious enough to require an emergency room visit during the study period.

Boys were the most likely to be injured, with 58.6 percent of the injuries occurring in males. Youngsters between the ages of 10 and 14 had the highest rates of injuries, sustaining 49 percent of all injuries.

While boys sustained the majority of the injuries, the rate of injuries rose faster among girls. The researchers suspect that this may be because more girls are now playing soccer.

The most common injuries were to the hand, wrist or fingers, followed by ankle injuries and knee injuries. Girls were more likely to sustain ankle and knee injuries and to have sprains or strains than boys.

Emphasis mine. Raise your hand if you thought hand/finger injuries would be the most common in an ER? That was interesting – I would have figured either ankle sprains or head injuries (concussions).

You can’t really draw a lot from this for one key reason:

“This study is interesting, but it misses a whole group of kids — those that go see a physician rather than head to the hospital for their injuries. As a sports medicine provider, I see a ton of injuries,” said Dr. Cynthia LaBella, director of the Knee Injury Prevention Program and medical director of the Institute for Sports Medicine at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

This study doesn’t really indicate much except that kids can get hurt playing soccer. No surprise there. But I think it highlights a problem with most of these studies – the samples are too fragmented to draw solid conclusions because youth soccer is so fragmented below the USSF (USYSA, AYSO, US Club, etc.) and injuries can be treated in so many different settings.

For me the most interesting thing was the injury types and frequency. Not what I would have expected.

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  1. A mom of a parent on my team says that if you take your kid to the ER in a soccer uniform, they tend to ask less questions. She was kidding, of course.