Have you ever wondered just how risky your son or daughter's favorite sport is, or whether it was a good idea to allow them to participate at all? While some of these statistics can seem threatening, remember that there are over 30 million students who enroll in some form of organized athletics program every year in the United States, ages 5-14. Below are statistics provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital - Stanford regarding some of the most common sports children are injured while participating in.
As predicted, football leads to around 215,000 trips to the emergency room. As an extremely physical sport, football is widely regarded as one of the few sports that project a higher risk of brain injury or permanent injury - but surprisingly, child football programs do not report the largest number of brain injuries per year.
This sport makes a not-so-surprising appearance on this list, as many of the 200,000 injuries that result in an ER visit each year for that age range are as a result of crashes. It's a hard life without training wheels.
While injuries during a sport like basketball are fairly common in adolescents, around 170,000 children in that age range mentioned above wind up in the emergency room due to a basketball-related injury. At this age, it's much more common to see kids in the ER to treat a badly-poked eye, jammed fingers, broken wrists, and rolled ankles.
4. Baseball and Softball
Although getting hit with a ball or tripping over older brother's old cleats seem like the most common ways children can get hurt while playing baseball, getting hit in the head with a bat or ball can prove to be just as dangerous as football - even at that age. Baseball and softball are responsible for 110,000 visits to an emergency room, and has the highest fatality rate for athletics in that age division per year, at 3-4 deaths.
Depending upon the level of competition, soccer can be brutal at any age. It's extremely common for kids to sprain an ankle by getting caught in a hole in the ground, break a wrist landing incorrectly, or get concussions trying to head the ball. Soccer players make up 88,000 of just over 775,000 injuries reported from sports in that 5-14 age range.
6. Skateboarding and Trampolines
Although two very different activities, skateboarding and trampolines lead to very similar statistics as far as number and type of injuries. Both sitting somewhere in the mid-60,000 for number of children sent to an emergency room, they both have an extremely high fall risk that put them both near or at the top of the list of most risky sports for head injuries. Skateboarding sits atop the chart at the most risky for head injuries to occur, resulting in a whopping 50% of all athletic-related injuries in children ages 5-14 each year.
7. In-Line and Roller Skating
It shouldn't be surprising that roller skating follows skateboarding on the list of the most-injury prone child athletes, with a staggering 47,000 injuries resulting in a trip to the ER per year.
8. Skiing and Snowboarding
Because I myself have been injured from snowboarding, I'm not particularly surprised that these adventurous sports ended up on this list, as well. While it's extremely easy fall and land the wrong way leading to upper extremity injuries, such as broken wrists or dislocated shoulders, it's also more than likely a higher risk for children to fracture a bone in their legs, too. The amount of pressure on the joints that are associated with such rigorous sports can lead to hairline fractures that progress in children, as their bones may not yet have solidified. There's also an increased risk of injury due to lack of predicted course, as a child can easily turn down the wrong run and end up on a much more dangerous path than intended. Skiers and snowboarders sit toward the bottom of our most commonly injured child athletes, with over 25,000 emergency room cases per year.
9. Ice Hockey
Last but definitely not least, this sport only increases the risk of injury as children climb through that age division. A notoriously brutal sport, ice hockey is responsible for more than 20,000 injuries per year.
Look forward to next week's post, Part II, regarding how you can help decrease your child's risk of injury if their passion can be found somewhere on this list.