The Top Ten: Injury-Prone Summer Sports

Athletes who participate in popular summer sports are prone to injury, according to statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

Warm weather and blue skies make summer a prime time for people of all ages to become involved in athletic activities. Yet, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), summer sports are the cause of a significant number of injuries in the United States.

“The summer months bring many more injuries to the emergency department than any other time of year,” Dr. Mark Lowell, an assistant professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Health System, said in a press release.

According to NEISS statistics for 2008 (the latest available data), biking – with 516,261 injuries – is the single most accident and injury-prone summer activity, with a significant lead over other activities. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) states that common biking injuries include: tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, abrasions, fractures, sprains, strains, and concussions.

“In the summer, we see an increased number of injuries and accidents, we call it trauma season,” Dr. Marie Lozon, director of Children’s Emergency Services at the University of Michigan Health System, said in a press release. “Children who are going to be bike riding need to wear a bike helmet. I know that a lot of kids think it’s not cool and they look like a dork, but you only have one brain, and you really don’t want to injure it.”

NEISS statistics list baseball and softball as the second most injury-prone activity with 273,672 injuries. Close behind at number three is motocross with 253,775 injuries, soccer is number four with 199,475 injuries, and swimming rounds out the top five with 160,667 injuries.

Swimming injuries include those sustained from diving, and jumping into bodies of water. “Knowing the depth of the water and making sure there are no toys or obstacles in the way before diving is important for preventing these injuries,” said Lowell. “When diving into the ocean, it is best to go feet first. Rivers are especially dangerous due to varying depths and hidden objects beneath the surface.”

The number six slot on the list of most injury prone sports belongs to lacrosse with 87,162 injuries. Horseback riding with 73,328 injuries, volleyball with 56,230 injuries, and tennis with 32,575 injuries all fall within the top ten. Track & Field with just 19,019 results in significantly less injuries but makes it onto the list, closing out the top ten.

Organized sports are not the only injury prone athletic activities popular in the summer. According to the NEISS, general exercise or exercise equipment accounts for 300,052 injuries. Jumping on a trampoline, with 104,752 injuries, and skateboarding, with 149,577 injuries, are also among the most injury-prone summer time activities.

“Any wheeled apparatus can be a potential hazard – be it bicycles, rollerblades, scooters or skateboards,” said Lowell “The most important thing one can do is to wear a helmet to prevent a head injury.” For a safe summer, both physicians stress the importance of injury prevention, to help keep all participants in athletic activities out of the emergency room.
-Erin Podolak


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