MAYWOOD, Il. (April 11, 2014) A Loyola University Medical Center study is reporting for the first time a link between overuse injury rates in young athletes and their socioeconomic status.
The rate of serious overuse injuries in athletes who come from families that can afford private insurance is 68 percent higher than the rate in lower-income athletes who are on public insurance (Medicaid), the study found.
The study also found that privately insured young athletes are twice as likely as publicly insured athletes to be highly specialized in one sport. Loyola researchers previously reported that young athletes who specialize in one sport are more likely to suffer serious overuse injuries, but until now this distinction has not been reported based on socioeconomic status.
Neeru Jayanthi, MD, reported results in an oral presentation at the International Olympic Committee World Conference on Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport in Monaco. These findings also were presented at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA.
"Intense specialization in one sport can cost thousands of dollars a year in equipment, fees, transportation, private lessons, etc.," Jayanthi said. "Having the financial resources to afford such costs may provide increased opportunities for young athletes to participate in a single sport."
But there may be a different price to pay, added Lara Dugas, PhD, MPH, co-investigator on the study. "Young athletes with this type of training appear to be at greater risk for serious overuse injuries than those who have fewer financial resources," Dugas said.
Serious overuse injuries can force young athletes to the sidelines for one to six months or longer. Such injuries include stress fractures in the back or limbs, elbow ligament injuries and osteochondral injuries (injuries to cartilage and underlying bone).
Jayanthi and colleagues are conducting an ongoing collaborative study of athlet
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Loyola University Health System