A comparison of paediatric soccer, gaelic football and rugby injuries presenting to an emergency department in Ireland

Injury. 2007 Jan;38(1):104-11. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2006.06.010. Epub 2006 Sep 20.


Objectives: Children presenting with sport related injuries (SRIs) as a result of soccer, rugby and gaelic football are frequently seen in an emergency medicine (EM) setting in Ireland. A comparison of the demographics of injuries in these three sports has however not previously been performed. The purpose of this study was to provide up-to-date data on the nature of these SRIs.

Method: Data was collected retrospectively on all children (<17 years of age), injured in these three sports, presenting to an emergency medicine department over 6 months, and was entered into a database for analysis.

Results: Retrospective analysis was performed on 23,000 charts, and 409 SRIs were identified over a 6-month period. None of the children reported using any form of protective gear, and 27% reported a previous presentation to the emergency department with a SRI. Most injuries were as a result of soccer (56%), with 24% occurring in gaelic football, and 20% occurring in rugby. The predominant mechanism of injury was different in each sport, in soccer-falls (38%), in gaelic football-collisions with objects (balls) (37%), and in rugby-collision with persons (55%). Although the predominant type of injury in soccer and gaelic football was a fracture, accounting for 50% and 42% of injuries, respectively, in rugby however, skin/soft tissue injuries presented more commonly, accounting for 44% of injuries. When the general site of injury was investigated, the upper limb accounted for the majority of SRIs in each sport. In the management of SRIs, oral analgesics were prescribed in 50%, however, it was observed that no use was made of topical, intramuscular or rectal analgesic routes of administration. In addition it was observed that RICE/general injury advice was given in only 27%, physiotherapy was requested in 2%, and no injury prevention advice was given to any child. Overall, 8% required admission.

Conclusions: The data provided from this study may raise awareness of the nature of SRIs affecting children in each of these three sports, and may be useful in formulating much needed injury prevention strategies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Football / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / pathology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy