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New national study finds increase in football-related injuries among youth

Approximately 2,000 children and adolescents are treated for football-related injuries in U.S. EDs every day during football season

A new study conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that an estimated 5.25 million football-related injuries among children and adolescents between 6 and 17 years of age were treated in U.S. emergency departments between 1990 and 2007. The annual number of football-related injuries increased 27 percent during the 18-year study period, jumping from 274,094 in 1990 to 346,772 in 2007.

"We found that nearly 2,000 pediatric and adolescent football-related injuries were treated every day in emergency departments during football season," said Lara McKenzie, PhD, study co-author and principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "We need to do a better job of preventing football-related injuries among our young athletes."

According to the study, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, the most common injuries were sprains and strains (31 percent), fractures and dislocations (28 percent) and soft tissue injuries (24 percent). In addition, concussions accounted for 8,631 injuries each year. Adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old suffered a greater proportion of the injuries (78 percent), and were more likely to sustain a concussion or be injured at school when compared to younger players. Children aged 6 to 11 years old were more likely to sustain lacerations, and were often injured at home.

"Prevention and treatment of concussions are the focus of many discussions at every level of play – from the junior level all the way up to the National Football League. Our data shows that young athletes are at risk for concussions," said Dr. McKenzie, also a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "Every day during football season, an average of fifty-seven 6 to 17 year olds are treated in U.S. emergency departments for football-related concussions. The potential long-term consequences of this type of injury make this an unacceptably high number."

Data for this study were collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The NEISS dataset provides information on consumer product-related and sports and recreation-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments across the country.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital works globally to reduce injury-related pediatric death and disabilities. With innovative research at its core, CIRP works to continually improve the scientific understanding of the epidemiology, biomechanics, prevention, acute treatment and rehabilitation of injuries. CIRP serves as a pioneer by translating cutting edge injury research into education, advocacy and advances in clinical care. For related injury prevention materials, or to learn more about the Center for Injury Research and Policy, go to While visiting our website, sign up for the RSS feed in the What's New section of our media center to receive e-mail updates of our latest news.

Ranked in U.S.News & World Report's 2010 "America's Best Children's Hospitals" and Parents magazine's 2009 top 10 "Best Children's Hospitals" lists, Nationwide Children's Hospital is one of the nation's largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric healthcare networks providing care for infants, children, adolescents and adult patients with congenital disease. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children's Hospital faculty train the next generation of pediatricians, scientists and pediatric specialists. The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital is one of the top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded free-standing pediatric research facilities in the U.S., supporting basic, clinical, translational and health services research at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Currently, two buildings totaling approximately 300,000 square feet are dedicated to research on the Nationwide Children's campus. An additional 225,000 square feet of research space will be added when a third research building opens in 2012. More information is available at

Lara McKenzie, PhD

Erin Pope | EurekAlert!
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