Young Athletes and Sport Related Injuries

Roughly 30 million children engage in sporting activities and each year these young athletes experience millions of injuries. Approximately 775,000 children under the age of 14 visit emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. A further 2 million injuries and 500,000 doctors visits are needed to assist children between the ages of 14-19 with recovering from their injuries. Nationwide, nearly 1/3 of all recorded childhood injuries are caused by participation in sporting events.

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Playing a Dangerous Game

While every sport involves the risk of injury, some sports are inherently more dangerous than others. For example, contact sports such as football, wrestling, and hockey have higher rates of injury than sports such as baseball, golf, and tennis.

Basketball – Children between the ages of 5-19 suffer more than 375,000 basketball-related injuries each year. That’s equivalent to about 15% of all players within the demographic. The most common injuries are strains and sprains of the lower extremities, followed by fractures and dislocations. Of considerable concern is the fact that the number of traumatic brain injuries is increasing. From 1997 to 2007, instances of TBI increased more than 70%.

Baseball – Slightly more than 100,000 children between the ages of 5 to 14 are treated in emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries each year. Common injuries include strains, sprains, and broken arms/legs. Up to 25 of players between the ages of 5 to 14 are injured each year. Since 2000, rates of elbow and shoulder injuries have risen more than 500%.

Moreover, many children experience traumatic brain injury when they are struck with either the bat or the ball. The sport has one of the highest fatality rates of all sports and each year 3 to 4 children under the age of 14 die while playing the game.

Cycling – Each year, 200,000 children are treated for cycling related injuries. These injuries include strains, sprains, broken bones, and severe lacerations. Use of safety equipment such as helmets and pads has helped reduce fatality rates by 92% since 1975. However, it is still considered one of the most dangerous youth sports and roughly 13 per 100,000 children are hospitalized each year with cycling related injuries.

Hockey – Roughly 20,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14 are injured in hockey-related accidents each year. Common injuries include broken bones, fractures, and traumatic brain injury.

Football – Between 2005 and 2014, 92 teenagers died as a result of playing High School football. These players died because of indirect injuries such as exhaustion leading to heart attack or dehydration leading to organ failure.

During that same period, 24 players died as the result of direct injuries caused by the crushing impacts that are the hallmark of the sport. These players suffered severe spinal injuries or traumatic brain injuries that claimed their lives. Nationwide, it is estimated that 28% of players ages 5 to 14 will be injured while playing football.

Gymnastics – From 1990 to 2005, slightly less than 426,000 children between the ages of 6 and 17 suffered gymnastics-related injuries. It’s a statistic that represents an average of 5 injuries per 1,000 gymnasts. Common injuries include head/neck trauma, concussions, strains, sprains, and broken bones. Approximately 40% of these injuries occur in the course of school sanctioned events or gymnastics programs.

Skiing/Snowboarding – Approximately 25,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14 are injured while skiing each year. Common injuries include broken bones, concussions, and exposure.

Practice Makes Problems

While many assume that gameplay is the most dangerous activity, the reality is that 62% of injuries occur during practice. The reason for this is because many players, parents, and coaches fail to take the same precautions and utilize the same required safety equipment during practices that are required during official gameplay.

Pursuing Claims for Injuries

A personal injury attorney for the parents or the injured players can pursue damages against players, coaches, school districts, and equipment manufacturers for the injuries caused by sports- related incidents. For example:

  • The school district could be liable for violating safety requirements included within the Youth Sports Concussion Act and failing to have qualified medical personnel present at the sporting event.
  • The coach could be held liable for overexerting a player recovering a known injury such as a concussion, sprain, or heart condition.
  • A player could be found liable for unsportsmanlike conduct that results in the injury or death of another player.
  • An equipment manufacturer could be held liable for producing safety equipment that fails within normal use specifications. For example, if a brake system on a bicycle is prone to failure or a football helmet fails to provide the necessary cushion to prevent TBI.
  • A hospital can be found liable for misdiagnosing a serious injury such as Traumatic Brain Injury or damage to the spinal column.