Head injuries related to sports and recreation activities in school-age children and adolescents: data from a referral centre in Victoria, Australia

Emerg Med Australas. 2010 Feb;22(1):56-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-6723.2009.01249.x. Epub 2009 Dec 14.


Objectives: Head injuries (HI) in children are common and even mild HI can lead to ongoing cognitive and behavioural changes. We set out to determine the causes of sport-related HI in school-age children presenting to a large urban ED as a basis for future interventions.

Method: Identification and medical record review of all sport-related HI in children aged 6-16 years at a tertiary children's hospital ED in Victoria, Australia, over a 1 year period. Information was collected on demographics, injury variables and radiology findings. HI were classified as mild, moderate and severe based on GCS and radiography reports.

Results: Over 12 months there were 406 HI in school-age children. Seventy per cent were male. A large number of HI (129; 33%) were related to sports. Of these, most were classified as mild and 13% were classified as moderate or severe. Among a range of sports, Australian Rules football was associated with more than 30% of all HI attributable to a sport and recreation cause. Equestrian activities were the main cause of moderate HI.

Conclusion: The present study identified sports as a major cause of HI in the Victorian paediatric emergency setting with Australian Rules football the most commonly involved sport. Further prevention initiatives should consider targeting Australian Rules football and equestrian activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recreation*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Victoria / epidemiology