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Sports & Recreational Injury Report (excerpts)

Compiled by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign
Sports participation is beneficial to children in many ways. The risk of physical injury is inherent in sports participation. It is estimated that half of all organized sports-related injuries among children can be prevented. Protective equipment, safer playing environments and rules designed to prevent injury are successful in reducing the frequency and severity of sports- and recreation-related injuries among children.


Deaths & Injuries

  • Death among children during sports activities is a rare event, most deaths occur during recreational activities.
  • An estimated 3.2 million children ages 5 to 14 suffer from sports - and recreation-related injuries each year.


When and Where Sports and Recreational Injures Occur

  • Young children, especially ages 5 to 9, are more likely to sustain playground and bicycle-related injuries. Older children are more likely to suffer from bicycle, sports-related injuries and overexertion.


Organized Sports

  • Each year, more than 775,000 children ages 14 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries. The majority of these injuries are from falls, collisions, being struck by an object and overexertion.
  • Basketball: In 1997, nearly 200,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for basketball-related injuries (70% were boys).
  • Football: In 1997, more than 150,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in emergency rooms for football-related injuries (95 % were boys).
  • Baseball and Softball: Baseball has the highest fatality rate among all sports for children ages 5 to 14. Each year, three to four children die from injuries sustained playing baseball. In 1997, nearly 95,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated for baseball injuries (80% were boys) and more than 30,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated for softball (80% were girls).


Recreational Activities

  • Bicycling: In 1996, more than 200 children ages 14 and under died in bicycle-related crashes; and in 1997, more than 312,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in emergency rooms.
  • In-line Skating & Roller Skating: Since 1992, at least 27 children age 14 and under have died from skating injuries. The majority of these deaths were from collisions with motor vehicles. In 1997 alone, nearly 93,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated.
  • Playgrounds: Each year, nearly 20 children ages 14 and under die (JS Note: approx. 14 of these fatalities occur on home swingsets and play structures) and, in 1997, an estimated 211,000 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for playground equipment-related injuries. Children ages 5 to 14 accounted for nearly 70 percent of these injuries. It is estimated that one-third of playground-related fatalities and 70 percent of injuries occur on public playgrounds.
  • Trampolines: In 1997, more than 64,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for trampoline-related injuries accounting for more than three quarters of all such injuries (JS Note: approx. 0.3 children ages 14 and under die each year). More than 90% of injuries occur at home and the injuries predominantly involve the extremities.


Who Is at Risk & Prevention Tips

  • Children ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 40 percent of sports-related injuries for all ages. The rate and severity of sports-related injury increases with a child's age.
  • Children who do not wear or use protective equipment, safety gear, are at greater risk of sustaining sports-related injuries. Lack of awareness for potential injury, inappropriate or unavailable equipment and lack of money to purchase equipment are some of the reasons children do not use protective equipment.