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High School Sports Put Players at Risk for Severe Injuries

More needs to be done to protect young knees, ankles and shoulders, researcher says

THURSDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 15 percent of all high school sports injuries are bad enough to keep a child from playing for at least three weeks, with football leading the pack in severe injuries, a new U.S. study finds.

The review of two years of injury data also found that girls experienced a greater rate of severe injury than boys in comparable sports they both play, such as basketball, soccer and baseball/softball.

Wrestling, girls' basketball and girls' soccer followed football in having the highest severe injury rate, according to the study in the September issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

"Other studies have shown injury rates by sport, however, very few studies have highlighted the severity of injuries per sport. Our research illustrated severe injuries occurring most frequently in football," study author Dawn Comstock, an assistant professor at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher.

The researchers examined injuries reported at 100 nationally representative high schools from 2005 to 2007 in nine sports: boys' baseball and girls' softball; boys' and girls' basketball; boys' football; boys' and girls' soccer; girls' volleyball; and boys' wrestling.

The study found that severe injuries most frequently occurred to a player's knee (30 percent), followed by the ankle (12.3 percent) and shoulder (10.9 percent). Illegal actions by a player, such as tripping or spear tackling, resulted in 5 percent of the severe injuries.

"Preventing these types of severe injuries is especially important to minimize health-care costs both on the family and on the health-care system itself," said Comstock, who added that future studies should look at minimizing these risks.

According to information issued by the AOSSM, U.S. children experience an estimated 2 million sports-related injuries annually that result in 30,000 hospitalizations.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about preventing sports injuries.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, news release, Sept. 1, 2009

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