Sport and recreation-related head injuries treated in the emergency department

Clin J Sport Med. 2001 Apr;11(2):77-81. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200104000-00003.


Objective: Head injury (HI) in sport is common and can have serious consequences. This study examines the epidemiology of sport/recreational (SR)-related HI presenting to the emergency department (ED).

Design: Retrospective review of medical records.

Setting: Five EDs in the Capital Health Region (Edmonton) located in the province of Alberta, Canada.

Patients: All persons in a 1-year period reporting to the EDs with an HI. HI was defined as IC9-CM coded skull fracture, loss of consciousness, or concussion.

Main outcome measures: Hospitalization, utilization of diagnostic testing, and discharge destination.

Results: In total, 10,877 (3%) of 288,948 ED encounters were for sports and recreational injuries; 358 (3%) were for HI. Males (71%) were more frequently injured; patients < 20 years old were involved in 66% of all HI cases. The highest proportion of HI occurred during ice hockey (21%), cycling (13%), and playground-related activities (8%). 9% of HI were hospitalized (versus 4% admission rate for other SR injuries: p < 0.01).

Conclusions: These results demonstrate the utility of an ED-based injury registry and indicate that patients with HI presenting to the ED from SR activities are common. These injuries appear to be more severe than other types of SR injuries treated in the ED.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Ambulances / statistics & numerical data
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Bicycling / injuries
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Football / injuries
  • Hockey / injuries
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings / injuries
  • Recreation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Skull Fractures / epidemiology
  • Soccer / injuries
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Unconsciousness / epidemiology