Sports accidents and sports injuries are responsible for a significant portion of all hospital and emergency room (ER) visits each year. Sports injuries affect all people, both young and old, male and female, professional athletes and amateurs. Anyone involved in athletic activities, and even sports fans, know that injuries are a constant risk in any kind of sport.
Sports injuries can vary depending on the type of sport, the person’s gender, and the person’s age. For example, an ACL injury is a tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This is the ligament that helps connect a person’s thigh bone (the femur) to their shinbone (the tibia). ACL injuries are most common in sports that involve sudden stops or changes of direction, jumping and landing, so soccer, basketball, football and downhill skiing are all sports that are especially risk-heavy for ACL injuries
What follows below are some statistics on sports accidents and injuries common in sports, compiled from various sources.
General Sports Statistics
- Sports injuries can include muscle strains, sprains, torn muscles and tendons, broken bones, bruises, serious head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and overexertion. They are sometimes fatal;
- Experts claim that up to 85% of bicycling-related injuries may be prevented through the use of proper helmets and other headgear;
- Injuries by type of sport with the estimated number of injuries in one recent year were as follows:
- Basketball: 529,000;
- Bicycling: 490,000;
- Football: 460,000;
- Mopeds, minibikes, and ATVs: 275,000
- Baseball and softball: 274,000.
Many people believe that skateboarding is an especially risky sport. In 2021, according to statistics compiled by the National Safety Council, there were 245,177 estimated injuries to users of skateboards, electric skateboards, scooters and hoverboards. The use of skateboards, electric skateboards, scooters and hoverboards had the 4th largest number of injuries requiring emergency room visits of any sport activity.
It is interesting to note that in 2021 exercising and the use of exercise equipment had the most injuries that required visits to the ER, with bicycling and basketball coming in second and third. Of course, the popularity of a sport or activity is a factor in the number of injuries that result. The more popular a sport or activity is, the more injuries it may generate.
Ice hockey injuries are also common because the sport presents many risks. It is played at high speeds on a slippery surface, i.e. ice. Ice hockey skates have sharp blades that pose an obvious hazard. The puck can travel at speeds of up to 100 miles an hour. On the plus side, ice hockey players wear a lot of protective gear, including helmets, some with face masks, and extensive padding.
What Injuries Are Associated with Which Body Part?
The Sports Medicine Media Guide and American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) compiled the following data:
- The acromioclavicular joint (AC joint), which is near the shoulder: AC joint injuries resulted in approximately 95,000 doctor’s visits in 2008. AC joint separations are a common injury in ice hockey;
- Ankle Sprain: There are about 25,000 ankle sprains in the U.S. every day, but not all of them are related to sports;
- The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL): There are about 150,000 ACL injuries every year in the U.S. Apparently, female basketball and soccer athletes are 2 to 8 times more likely than other athletes to suffer an ACL injury;
- Articular Cartilage: Articular cartilage is a kind of cartilage found only in our synovial joints. They are responsible for defects in knees in up to 36% of all athletes. Strenuous sports can cause it to degenerate;
- Concussions: American emergency rooms have treated as many as 135,000 sports-related concussions and other brain injuries in young people between the ages of 5 to 18 in some recent years;
- Heat Illness: Heat stroke kills around 200 Americans each year and some of those deaths occur among athletes who are required to train and play out-of-doors in high heat;
- Meniscal Tear (knee): The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the knee joint. Twisting or rotating the knee, especially if a person has placed their full weight on the knee, can result in tearing of the meniscus. Meniscal tears are one of the most common knee injuries. It afflicts about 61 out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. each year. Football, basketball, and soccer are sports in which the players are prone to meniscus tears;
- Overuse: Overuse injuries affect around 3.5 million children each year; half of all of the injuries in middle and high school students are due to overuse;
- Rotator Cuff: Up to 40% of individuals experience rotator cuff injuries, and the risk increases dramatically as age increases;
- Shoulder Dislocation or Instability: Every year there are 70,000 cases of shoulder dislocations. Shoulder dislocation is common in ice hockey or other sports that entail the risk of impact injuries;
- SLAP Tears (a type of shoulder injury): Repair surgery for SLAP tears has only 33-66% chance of the athlete returning to their previous performance levels, and 40% of military personnel have had SLAP tears at one point;
- Steroid-Related Injuries: Up to 4 million American teens and children are using anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, which makes injuries difficult to document due to the illegal nature of such practices;
- Stress Fractures: Fracture rates for athletes ranges from 5 to 30% depending on the sport, and children may be at greater risk due to less bone density and strength because their bones are not fully developed;
- Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD): SCD may be as high as 1 in every 75,000 athletes per year in high school and college.
How Can Sports Injuries Be Avoided?
Many sports injuries could be avoided by taking measures to limit their occurrence. One interesting statistic is that 12,714 children in the U.S. alone are treated each year for injuries they sustained on home exercise equipment. Most of the injuries are associated with stationary bikes. Experts recommend keeping exercise equipment, especially stationary bikes, out of the way and ideally, away from children.
Treadmills can lead to potentially fatal accidents. Again, experts recommend equipping a treadmill with an emergency safety or shut-off clip. The purpose of this is to shut the power off if a person falls while using the treadmill.
A person should always use a power rack or squat rack with spotter bars when lifting weights.
They act as a support, so if a person drops the weights, the weights hit the safety bars before crushing a person’s chest or throat.
While skateboarding is not the most dangerous sports activity, contrary to what many might believe, it does result in injuries. According to some experts, half of these injuries involve skateboarders in the 14 to 24 age group. So, young and inexperienced skateboarders are more likely to be injured. In addition, young skateboarders are at special risk.
When it comes to skateboarding, 74% of all injuries are to the extremities, i.e. feet, hands, arms and legs. Some 19 % of the injuries involve broken wrists, 11% of the injuries are to the ankles. The face is injured in 16% of the cases.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) tells us that:
- Children under the age of 5 should never ride a skateboard;
- Children between the ages of 6 and 10 need close supervision from an adult or teen when they ride their skateboard;
Skateboarding is a special risk for young children and not only because of their inexperience.
- It is because of other factors such as the following:
- Children have a higher center of gravity, less physical development or poor balance. Thus young children are more likely to fall and hurt their heads;
- Children have slower reaction time and less coordination than adults have. Children are less able to break their falls than are adults;
- Children have less skill and ability than they think. Children are more likely to overestimate their skills and abilities. In addition, they are inexperienced in judging speed, traffic and other risks.
Experts note that skateboarders are better off in skateparks than on city streets or next to roadways.
Whatever sport one prefers, it pays to be aware of the risks that each sport poses and how to engage in the sport safely. Then a person should educate themselves about what type of protective equipment is available and make sure to use it.
Should I Seek Legal Help for a Sports Injury?
Americans spend many millions of dollars each year on medical care, rehab, and therapy treating injuries from sports accidents. You may want to consult a personal injury attorney if you need legal advice about filing a claim for a sports injury.
Your lawyer can analyze your situation and inform you as to whether you have a case for negligence or possibly for strict product liability. If you do, your lawyer can guide you through the process. If you need to file a lawsuit, your lawyer can represent you in court during hearings and other proceedings.