While physical activity is beneficial for children’s health, it can lead to sports injuries in the growing bodies of young people. Research about sports injuries has been conducted in an effort to prevent injury and keep athletics as safe as possible for kids.
A recent study added to this body of research. Researchers surveyed over 1200 children aged 6-12 years old weekly over two and a half years. Because the survey questions were so frequent, this study utilized the technology of text messages, which were exchanged with participants’ parents every week. The purpose of the study was to report data about both traumatic and overuse sports injuries to the upper and lower extremities. The survey questions and responses sent via text message were used to identify the presence of musculoskeletal problems and to determine participation in physical activities and leisure-time sports. When injuries were reported, examinations were performed, with treatment assigned, if needed.
Injury incidence averaged at about 1.2% of participants each week. Overall, injuries to the lower extremities were nearly six times more common than injuries to the upper extremities. Overuse injuries were the most common in the legs and lower body; traumatic injuries were more prevalent than overuse in the upper body.
Overall, the injury rate was high. Among just 1259 children, a total of 1229 injuries was reported, with overuse injuries almost doubling traumatic injuries. Many children experienced multiple injuries over the 2.5 year study period.
On average, the children participated 1.5 times per week in a leisure-time sport. Those who participated in school sports were significantly more likely to suffer a traumatic lower-extremity injury. Leg injuries associated with overuse were also more likely the more the children participated in sports.
The only factor that increased the odds of sustaining an upper-extremity injury was age. Especially for overuse injuries, the older the participants were, the greater their chances of being hurt in the upper body.
This study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, comes on the heels of other research about risk factors associated with the different age ranges of children and teens who sustain sports injuries.
Jespersen E, Holst R, et al. Overuse and traumatic extremity injuries in schoolchildren surveyed with weekly text messages over 2.5 years. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 2013. doi: 10/1111/sms.12095.