Objective: The purpose of this epidemiologic study is twofold: first, to determine the relative frequency of sports-related injuries compared with all musculoskeletal injuries in patients 5 to 21 years of age presenting to the emergency department (ED), and second, to evaluate the sports-specific and anatomic site-specific nature of these injuries.
Methods: Patterns of injury in patients 5 to 21 years of age presenting to four pediatric EDs with musculoskeletal injuries in October 1999 and April 2000 were prospectively studied. Information collected included age, sex, injury type, anatomical injury site, and cause of injury (sports-related or otherwise). Information about patient outcome and disposition was also obtained.
Results: There were a total of 1421 injuries in 1275 patients. Musculoskeletal injuries were more common in male patients (790/62%) than in female patients. The mean age of the patients was 12.2 years (95% CI, 12.0-12.4). Sprains, contusions, and fractures were the most common injury types (34, 30, and 25%, respectively). Female patients experienced a greater percentage of sprains (44% vs 36%) and contusions (37% vs 33%) and fewer fractures (22% vs 31%) than male patients. Sports injuries accounted for 41% (521) of all musculoskeletal injuries and were responsible for 8% (495/6173) of all ED visits. Head, forearm, and wrist injuries were most commonly seen in biking, hand injuries in football and basketball, knee injuries in soccer, and ankle and foot injuries in basketball.
Conclusions: Sports injuries in children and adolescents were by far the most common cause of musculoskeletal injuries treated in the ED, accounting for 41% of all musculoskeletal injuries. This represents the highest percentage of sports-related musculoskeletal injuries per ED visit reported in children to date. As children and adolescents participate in sports in record numbers nationwide, sports injury research and prevention will become increasingly more important.