Editor's Note: Dr. Geier is Director of MUSC Sports Medicine and an orthopaedic surgeon. He writes a sports medicine column for The Post and Courier.
More young athletes are playing sports than ever before. The National Council of Youth Sports estimates that 44 million kids play at least one organized sports activity. And while this surge is encouraging for so many reasons, it has also contributed to one worrisome trend. Injuries are skyrocketing.
As a sports medicine physician and orthopaedic surgeon, I, and others like me, certainly can treat injured athletes. But as I have mentioned previously in my columns, I believe that part of our responsibility to athletes is to try to prevent these injuries in the first place.
Just over one year ago, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine partnered with many other healthcare and sports organizations to create the STOP Sports Injuries campaign. When Safe Kids USA, one of the founding organizational supporters of the campaign, asked me to participate in an upcoming event, I enthusiastically agreed.
A short column like this one doesn't give me nearly enough room to discuss all of the possible injuries and their ramifications, let alone to offer prevention strategies. Instead, I want to offer some frightening statistics that suggest that we are confronting a real and serious problem.
--Sports injuries account for 4.3 million hospital emergency room visits annually in the United States. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
--Nearly 50 percent of all injuries sustained by middle school and high school students during sports are overuse injuries. (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons).
--Approximately 50 percent of overuse injuries in children and adolescents are preventable. (The American College of Sports Medicine).
--Girls involved in organized sports have an estimated injury rate of 20 to 22 per 100 participants per season, while boys have a risk of 39 per 100 participants per season. (National Athletic Trainers' Association).
--Surgeons are seeing four times as many overuse injuries in youth sports compared to five years ago. (Dr. James Andrews, orthopaedic surgeon).
--Approximately two out of five traumatic brain injuries among children are associated with participation in sports and recreational activities. (National Youth Sports Safety Foundation).
--21 percent of youth athletes say they have been pressured to play with an injury. (National Youth Sports Safety Foundation).
--62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practices rather than games. Despite this fact, one-third of parents often do not take the same safety precautions during their child's practices as they would for a game. (National Safe Kids Campaign).
If these statistics concern you about the safety of your young athlete, I encourage you to join us Sunday at Riley Park for the Youth Sports Safety Seminar sponsored by the Safe Kids Trident Area coalition. MUSC physicians and sports medicine personnel will offer prevention information and answer questions from coaches of middle school and high school football, soccer and tennis, as well as parents and young athletes. Please come join us to learn how you can prevent overuse and traumatic sports injuries.
Read more about youth sports injuries and other sports medicine topics on Dr. Geier's blog at drdavidgeier.com.