Purpose To describe the epidemiology of baseball- and softball-related injuries to the wrist, hand, and fingers among children aged 5–18 years in the United States.
Methods A retrospective analysis was performed by using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for children aged 5–18 years treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a baseball- or softball-related injury to the wrist, hand, or finger (2009–2015). Cases where the patient was injured playing baseball or softball were analysed (n=8,947). Player action at time of injury was coded by reviewing case narratives. Sample weights were used to calculate national estimates and rates of injuries over time were analysed using linear regression.
Results An estimated 3 57 784 (95% CI: 297,464–418,104) children aged 5–18 years were treated in EDs for baseball- or softball-related injuries to the wrist, hand, or finger during the eleven-year study period. Most patients were injured playing baseball (63.8%) and were 13–15 years old (37.0%). Injuries most often occurred to fingers (54.7%) and fractures (34.4%) were the most common diagnosis. Children aged 5–9 years were 2.05 times (95% CI: 1.17–2.48) as likely to be injured while batting compared to those aged 10–18 years. Children aged 13–18 years were 1.79 times (95% CI: 1.54–2.09) as likely to be injured while sliding compared to other age groups. Injury rates significantly increased from 2005 through 2010 (p<0.05) and then significantly decreased from 2011 through 2015 (p<0.05).
Conclusions Differences in injuries by age groups may be due to varying skill level and increased competitive play. Long-term surveillance of injuries is needed after a bat regulation change in baseball in 2011.
Significance Investigating the epidemiology of baseball and softball injuries is critical in preventing sports-related injuries. Preliminary findings show that a bat regulation change in baseball has reduced injuries to the hand area and warrants continued investigation.
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