Youth Football Injury Frequency and Severity on the Rise

Christina Dodd 

New data released in a recent issue of Clinical Pediatrics shows that injuries received in youth football are rising. The report found that the number of game-related injuries to football players aged six to seventeen who were treated in hospital ERs in the United States has risen 27 percent in the course of eighteen years, from 274,094 in 1990 to 346,772 in 2007. Over the course of the study, roughly 5.25 million injuries related to youth football occurred among young football players in this age group, said researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Football InjuryLara McKenzie, who is one of the principal investigators at Nationwide’s Center for Injury Research and Policy, who co-authored the study, said during a recent news release that the results of the study show almost two thousand adolescent and pediatric football-related injuries were being treated every single day in hospitals while football season was going on. She adds that more care needs to be taken to prevent football injuries, especially with younger athletes.

The report also found that the types of injuries related to football that were most common include strains and sprains (constituting 31 percent of injuries), dislocations and fractures, (accounting for 28 percent), and injuries of soft tissue (24 percent). Researchers in the study also concluded that there is an average number of 8,631 concussions linked to football every year in the United States.

The study found that the majority of the injuries were sustained by players aged between 12 and 17, with seventy-eight percent of all injuries occurring within this age group. The study also found that players aged twelve to seventeen were significantly more likely to receive concussions than younger players, and that the injuries sustained more commonly occurred at school. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 were more at risk for sustaining lacerations, and most of their football-related injuries occurred at home. The basic principle here is that as football players become older, they become more capable of hurting themselves and each other while playing the game.

McKenzie says that preventing and treating concussions is focused on heavily at every level of play, from junior leagues all the way to professional NFL players. Data from the study indicates that younger athletes can be at risk for sustaining a concussion, and that there are an average of 57 cases of kids aged between six and seventeen treated for concussions from football in emergency rooms each day. McKenzie says that this number is “unacceptably high,” due to the potentially lengthy consequences of such an injury. It has not yet been determined what steps will be necessary to reduce the number of injuries sustained by youth football players, but the numbers show that some sort of action is necessary for an overall level of safety to be restored.