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Exercise

Kids Are Better Sports With Injury Prevention, Study Finds


"Safety first" seems to be top on the list for young sports enthusiasts, a new survey finds.

More than 81 percent of youths who did not have a sports-related injury also said they were aware of the safety risks and guidelines, according to an online survey conducted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In addition, 78 percent said they use safety equipment all or most of the time when engaging in a sport or recreational activity.

The seven-week survey gave each participant the opportunity to respond for him- or herself, or a family member. More than 75 percent of those reporting for their family said someone in the family has sustained a sports-related injury.

Among the adults who participated, the highest rate of injury is associated with track/jogging (16 percent), while basketball came in second at 14 percent.

Among participants under 17 years of age, soccer caused more injuries, the survey found; one out of four respondents reported sustaining an injury due to soccer. Reports for all family members were slightly higher (30 percent) than reports for individuals answering for themselves (22 percent).

Knee, foot and leg injuries were the most common to adults and the second, third and fourth most common to youth. In youth 17 years and under, wrist injuries took first place: 47 percent reported such an injury.

More than half of injuries occurred during non-structured activities in an outdoor setting, the online survey revealed. Adults and youth indicated about one-fourth of sports injuries had occurred in or around school.

Eye on Prevention

Sports injuries in children and adolescents can be minimized by a combination of protective equipment and proper coaching, Dr. Robert Stanton, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon in Pensacola, Fla., stressed.

"Children do listen to their parents when instructed to use proper protective devices (e.g., wrist splints for skating and helmets for bicycling)," said Stanton. "Adults who are involved with organized sports for youth should be familiar with the protective equipment that is appropriate for that sport."

Stanton noted that adults admit to using protective equipment less often than children, in spite of being aware of the advantages of the devices. However, adult fractures are more difficult to treat and take longer to heal than the comparable injury in a child and, therefore, adults should be strongly encouraged to take advantage of the safety equipment that is recommended for their sport.

Pros Outweigh the Cons

Overall, the health advantages of sports participation far outweigh the risks of serious injury, Stanton said.

"Children and adults alike should be encouraged to lead a healthy and active life; this includes intelligent sports participation," he said. "With a combination of proper training in safe sports technique, and the use of available protective devices, serious injury can be minimized."

For fact sheets on various sports and recreational activities, as well as tips on injury prevention, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' Web site, www.aaos.org. Go to the "Public and Media Relations" tab and click on "Prevent Injuries America!"


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