More on the Bench for an Injury

Fractures increasing among student athletes especially boys

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) For an athlete, injuries not only mean pain and discomfort but time away from practice and play until the doctor gives the green light.

New research shows that injuries are on the rise among high school student athletes, and scientists are pushing for better training methods and ensuring kids focus on their health rather than the game.

“Unless we change our approach to the way these athletes are trained, players and their families will continue to be faced with the unpleasant reality of fractures which include expensive surgeries, diagnostic testing and restricted sports participation," researchers report.

"Play hard but be carefully."

The study, led by David Swenson, an MD and MPH candidate at the Ohio State Colleges of Medicine and Public Health, looked at the number of sports injuries among high school athletes between 2008 and 2011 covering 20 different sports.

Researchers collected information from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System, which surveys schools across the country.

Athletic trainers reported more than 20,000 injuries with fractures making up almost 10 percent of them.

For every 10,000 high school injuries, almost two fractures occurred, with most occurring in football, boys' ice hockey and boys' lacrosse.

Male athletes had almost 80 percent of all fractures. Compared to female athletes, boys were almost three times as likely to get fractures during competition and about two and a half times as likely to get injured during practice.

The older athletes were, the less likely they were to have a fracture. Almost half of all fractures involved colliding with another player.

“Because girls’ lacrosse is a non-contact sport we didn’t expect to identify contact as the number one cause of fractures in the sport,” Swenson said in a press release.

“What we found was eye opening and highlighted the need for closer adherence to the rules of the game, as well as the potential for new rules like requiring protective equipment to keep these athletes safe on the field.”

Fingers and hands were fractured the most, encompassing more than 30 percent of all fractures. The lower leg and wrist follow behind, making up about 20 percent together.

“As we continue to see a rise in US high school students playing sports, it’s likely we will see a continued trend of increased injuries among these same athletes, including fractures,” Swenson said.

In addition, more than 17 percent the fractures needed surgery to fix them, more than any other kind of injury.

The study, funded in part by the Ohio State Center for Clinical and Translational Science, was published in the September issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 17, 2012
Last Updated:
November 19, 2012