Study: Rate of injuries among youth soccer players has doubled

September 15, 2016 / SoccerSports Medicine
A new study released this week suggests that the rate of injuries among youth soccer players has dramatically increased since 1990.

soccer2The study — conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital — found that the number of soccer-related injuries treated in emergency rooms in the U.S. each year increased by 78% with the annual rate of injuries up 111% among soccer players 7 to 17 years old.

Researchers said that the rising number of injuries comes not just from the increase in participation but also because players are now being treated more frequently for injuries.


“The sport of soccer has changed dramatically in the last 25 years,” said Huiyun Xiang MD, MPH, PhD, senior author and Director of Research Core at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “We’re seeing athletes play year-round now thanks to club, travel and rec leagues, and the intensity of play is higher than it ever has been. These factors combine to lead to more risk of injury.”

The majority of the injuries were sprains or strains (35%), fractures (23%) or soft tissue injuries (22%). While concussions and other closed-head injuries (CHIs) only accounted for just over 7% of the injuries overall, the rate of concussions/CHIs increased 1,596% over the 25-year study period. Athletes with concussions/CHI were twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital as patients with other diagnoses.

A 1,600% jump in the rate of concussions is an alarming figure, but keep in mind that our awareness, not to mention our means for diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, is significantly better today than it was 26 years ago. It would be misleading to imply that there is no correlation.

The study found that most injuries occurred when a player was struck by another player or the ball (39%) or when they fell (29%). Older children and adolescents ages 12 to 17 years accounted for the majority of the injuries (73%) and girls were more likely than boys to sustain a knee or an ankle injury.

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