Background Although physical activities promote positive physical, intellectual and social development, children and adolescents who participate in sports activities are exposed to various injury risks. Previous research on sports injuries has largely focused on high school and collegiate athletes. Incidence data for younger athletes is needed to develop prevention strategies.
Objective The purpose of this study was to identify the injury rates and related mechanisms among 5–11 year-old athletes who played sports in recreational leagues.
Methods A total of 1511 athletes ages 5–11 playing football, soccer, baseball and softball at a large athletic facility in Hillsborough County, Florida participated in our research. One certified athletic trainer (ATC) used Reporting Information Online (RIO) to collect data on athletic exposures and injuries weekly during the 2016–2017 season.
Results During the sports season, 18 injuries occurred in practices or competitions. Football had the leading rate of injuries for both competitions and practices (1.18 and 0.68, per 1000 athlete-exposures respectively). Most injuries occurred during competition (66.7%) and the leading types of injuries were concussions (22.2%) and fractures (22.2%). The leading injury mechanisms were contact with another person (33.3%) and playing apparatus (33.3%). Most injuries were new (88.9%). All injuries were initially assessed by the onsite ATC and managed by general physicians-pediatricians (55.6%) and/or the ATC (22.2%).
Conclusions The results of our study show that injuries do occur in these young athletes who play sports outside of school settings. It is advantageous to have ATCs on site for initial injury evaluation and post injury management. Future studies should include additional venues to allow for assessment of a greater number of athletes and additional sports.
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