Every 25 seconds, a child athlete suffers a sports injury serious enough to send him or her to the emergency room – equating to 1.35 million ER visits a year, according to a new survey.
The findings are part of a new report titled “Game Changers” from Safe Kids Worldwide, an international non-profit organization aimed at preventing unintentional childhood injury.
Using data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the report studied 14 of the most popular childhood sports, looking at the most common injuries that sideline young athletes. Researchers found that concussions account for 163,000 of the 1.35 million ER visits, meaning a concussion-related ER visit occurs once every three minutes.
Furthermore, the survey found an even more disturbing trend: Young athletes are suffering concussions just as much as high school athletes. Athletes between the ages of 12 and 15 make up 47 percent of sports-related concussions that send children to the ER – a frightening statistic given younger children have a much harder time recovering from concussions than older athletes.
Knee injuries were another major issue, accounting for one in 10 sports-related injuries. These types of injuries – specifically tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – were reported much more often in young girls. Female athletes were eight times more likely to have an ACL tear than their male counterparts.
"We uncovered some surprising and disturbing data about how often our kids are being injured playing sports," said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "But we also found some inspiring stories from people and programs that are making a marked difference.
The report details various strategies that parents, coaches and athletes can use to lower the incidence of these injuries, including getting educated, teaching athletes prevention skills, and encouraging young athletes to speak up about their injuries.