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Sports Safety - Injury Statistics and Incidence Rates

According to the CDC, more than 2.5 million children and teens are treated for sports-related injuries in the emergency department each year. By far, the most common injuries are sprains and strains.

Obviously, some sports are more dangerous than others. For example, contact sports such as football can be expected to result in a higher number of injuries than a noncontact sport such as swimming. However, all types of sports have a potential for injury, whether from the trauma of contact with other players or from overuse or misuse of a body part. Although death from a sports injury is rare, brain injury is the leading cause of deaths that do occur after sports-related injuries.

Picture of two young boys running

Where and when

  • Playground, sports, and bicycle-related injuries occur most often among young children, between ages 5 and 14 years old.

  • The highest rates of injury occur in sports that involve contact and collisions.

  • More severe injuries occur in individual sports and recreational activities.

  • Most organized sports-related injuries occur during practice.

Types of sports and recreational activities

Consider these estimate injury statistics for 2009 from the National Safety Council:

  • Basketball. Approximately 30 percent of all basketball-related injuries occurred in children ages 5 to 14.

  • Baseball. About 45 percent of baseball-related injuries occurred in children ages 5 to 14.

  • Bicycling. About 40 percent of total bicycle-related injuries occurred in children ages 5 to 14.

  • Football. Approximately 48 percent of total football-related injuries occurred in children ages 5 to 14.

  • Roller skating. About 50 percent of total roller skating-related injuries occurred in children ages 5 to 14.

  • Skateboarding. About 45 percent of skateboarding injuries occurred in children ages 5 to 14.

  • Soccer. About 42 percent of total soccer-related injuries occurred in children ages 5 to 14.


Online Medical Reviewer: Larson, Kim APRN, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 04/30/2013
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