WASHINGTON – Concussions, sprained ankles and torn knee ligaments are hazards of playing sports. And, they’re also partly responsible for the 1.35 million children and teens who were admitted to emergency rooms for sports-related injuries in 2012, according to a new report.
“Ankles are at the top of the list in terms of body parts that take kids into the emergency room,” says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, the organization that commissioned the report.
The study documented emergency department visits for the more than 46.5 million athletes age 19 and younger, who played in 14 sports. Ankle strains and sprains accounted for the most injuries with 451,480 reported, or 15 percent of all injuries. The most injuries occurred in basketball (249,650), although that sport also had the most players – more than 26 million.
The findings about anterior cruciate ligament injuries, most commonly known as ACL, was a surprise, Carr says.
“We found that girls are eight times more likely to have an ACL injury as compared to boys,” she says.
Girls could become more at risk as they get into their teen years.
“Girls in their adolescent years are probably somewhere between two and six times more likely to have a cruciate injury than guys,” says Dr. John Klimkiewicz, head of sports medicine in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.
During the past decade, concussions have become the biggest issue when discussing sports safety. According to the Safe Kids Worldwide report, a child was treated for a concussion once every 3 minutes in 2012.
“Of all of the visits to emergency rooms for concussions, 47 percent were for kids who were 12 to 15 years old,” Carr says.
Concussions are often linked to football, but other sports, such as soccer, wrestling and ice hockey, pose just as big a risk, according to the study.
“One out of every three ice hockey players are at risk of getting a concussion,” Carr says.