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Sport Injuries

We are all urged to exercise in order to keep fit and to avoid getting fat. Sports seem like a fun way of burning extra calories to lose weight, but according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report, sports injuries among baby boomers increased by 33 percent from 1991 to 1998.[1]  There were about 276,000 hospital emergency room-treated injuries to persons 35 to 54 in 1991 compared to more than 365,000 sports injuries to persons of these ages in 1998. The number of injuries keeps increasing every year. In 2006, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) reported over half a million injuries just for basketball. Another two million injuries were associated with bicycling, football, other sports.[2]

Is boxing really a sport
when the goal is to
knock each other senseless?

Baby boomers suffered more that 1 million sports injuries which cost over $18.7 billion Dollars in medical expenses in 1998. The highest numbers of sports-related injuries came from bicycling, basketball, baseball, and running.

The largest number of deaths were associated with head injuries while riding a bicycle. Most of these injuries resulted from accidents with motor vehicles due to heavy traffic, poor visibility, or failure to obey traffic regulations. Drowning while swimming was the next most common cause of death, followed by skiing accidents. Swimming where there is no lifeguard increases the risk of drowning if a person should get a cramp, or have some other serious problem. Deaths from skiing accidents occur because of the high speeds involved and the inability to maneuver to avoid obstacles like trees or rocks. Sonny Bono, of Sonny and Cher fame, died of injuries after hitting a tree while skiing near Lake Tahoe, California. His death came just days after Michael Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, died in a similar accident.

Injured Football Player 
The effect of an injury
may be felt many years later.

The prevalence of sport injuries in professional sports can be seen by just reading the sports pages of any newspaper, especially after the weekend games. Here is a sampling of the Washington Post for Tuesday, March 13, 2007:


Caron Butler's value to the Washington Wizards was made obvious late last season when the team lost five straight games while he was out with a thumb injury on his right (shooting) hand and again after this season's all-star break when the team went 0-3 while he was out with lower back spasms.
  Butler said persistent stiffness in the left knee -- the same knee that required arthroscopic surgery in October 2003 and forced him to miss 13 games as a member of the Miami Heat season -- has robbed him of quickness and explosiveness and led him to play with uncharacteristic hesitancy.


Washington Capitals' goaltender Brent Johnson left after the second period with a right knee injury. Johnson hurt himself while sprawling to stop Tkachuk's shot and was replaced by Frederic Cassivi at the start of the third period. Johnson will be reevaluated Tuesday. The Capitals don't play again until Thursday in Boston, where Olie Kolzig hopes to return from a sprained left knee.


Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz was hit in the head by a pitch and taken to a hospital during the Rangers' 11-7 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday in Phoenix.
  Cruz was batting with the bases loaded in the sixth inning when he was hit on the helmet near an ear by a fastball from Yovani Gallardo.
  Cruz stayed on the ground for several minutes, then walked off on his own power. He had an indentation on the side of his face where his helmet had been and looked dazed as he walked to the visitor's clubhouse. He was coherent when he got in a car and was taken to the hospital.

- Yankees: Carl Pavano last pitched in the majors on June 27, 2005, before being sidelined by shoulder, back, buttocks, elbow, and rib injuries.
- Cardinals: Jason Isringhausen is set to make his spring training debut Thursday, right on schedule. The right-handed closer missed the World Series after hip surgery in September.
- Padres: Greg Maddux was scratched from a scheduled start against the White Sox because of a mild lower abdominal strain.

Basketball fall
Basketball block
Basketball foul

As far as injuries are concerned, basketball is near the top of the list. The large number of injuries is due in part to the popularity of basketball, but the jumping and competitive aspects of the game cause the most damage. Players collide, hit (foul) each other, or fall and land improperly after jumping and they get hurt. Attempts to block the ball under the basket put the players in direct conflict without any protective equipment. Experienced players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used goggles to avoid eye injuries.

Greg Oden
Greg Oden after breaking his kneecap
President Obama needed 12 stitches
President Obama needed twelve
stitches after getting elbowed
during a basketball game in 2010

The 2009 season was particularly disastrous for the Portland Trail Blazers who had many players sidelined with serious injuries. Greg Oden broke his left kneecap after jumping to block a play. The rookie Patrick Mills injured a foot during training right after he was drafted. Nicolas Batum suffered a shoulder injury the previous year, and then re-injured it during the summer. When he started playing again, the cartilage in his shoulder tore and he had to have surgery. Travis Outlaw was lost for the year while recovering from a stress fracture in his foot. Martell Webster had a similar injury the previous year, and he re-broke the foot when he returned to play. Even the head coach, Nate McMillan, ruptured his Achilles' tendon during practice when he stepped in to fill gaps due to the shortage of players.

Sport Injury Statistics for gymnastics, ice hockey, snowboarding, tennis, volleyball, swimming, soccer, skating, golf, football, weightlifting, skiing, running, baseball, basketball, and bicycling

Bicycle accident
Falls from bicycles can result in broken bones

The following table of injuries is based on 2006 data compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).

Estimated Number
of Injuries
Sport and Type of Injury
529,837  Basketball - Cut hands, sprained ankles, broken legs, eye and forehead injuries.
490,434  Bicycling - Feet caught in spokes, head injuries from falls, slipping while carrying bicycles, collisions with cars.
460,210  Football - Fractured wrists, chipped teeth, neck strains, head lacerations, dislocated hips and jammed fingers.
275,123  ATVs, Mopeds, Minibikes - Riders of ATVs were frequently injured when they were thrown from vehicles. There were also fractured wrists, dislocated hands, shoulder sprains, head cuts and lumbar strains.
274,867  Baseball, Softball - Head injuries from bats and balls. Ankle injuries from running bases or sliding into them.
269,249  Exercise, Exercise Equipment - Twisted ankles and cut chins from tripping on treadmills. Head injuries from falling backward from exercise balls, ankle sprains from jumping rope.
186,544  Soccer - Twisted ankles or knees after falls, fractured arms during games.
164,607  Swimming - Head injuries from hitting the bottom of pools, and leg injuries from accidentally falling into pools.
96,119  Skiing, Snowboarding - Head injuries from falling, cut legs and faces, sprained knees or shoulders.
85,580  Lacrosse, Rugby, & other Ball Games - Head and facial cuts from getting hit by balls and sticks, injured ankles from falls.

Head Injuries can have long-term effects. An impact to the head may result in loss of consciousness, but there may be other symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, irritability, and memory loss. Brain damage caused by concussions may result in strokes, paralysis, headaches or reduced concentration and mental clarity. A 2009 study commissioned by the National Football League reported that Alzheimer's disease or other similar memory-related diseases appear in the league's former players at 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49. Other studies have found that football players who suffered concussions were more likely to suffer from depression. Boxers who are exposed to repeated head trauma have a higher risk of progressive Parkinson's disease[3]; a well-known case is that of Muhammad Ali. In general, it is a good idea to avoid sports that expose the head to repeated impacts, such as boxing, soccer, ice hokey, and football. Protective equipment such as helmets and face masks provide some protection, but injuries occur nevertheless.

Boxing Head Punch

Soccer head hit   Football block

  1. Baby Boomer Sports Injuries, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, April 2000. [PDF]
  2. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) On-line
  3. Friedman JH., Progressive parkinsonism in boxers, South Med J., 1989 May;82(5):543-6.

Search for Sport Injuries

Typical Results
Most Hazardous Sports - Forbes.com
But given the statistics on sports-related injuries sending Americans to emergency rooms each year, experts say it's a topic that deserves more attention. ...

Sports Injury Statistics
Detailed information on sports injuries in children.

NCHS - NAMCS / NHAMCS Sports Injury Table
National Center for Health Statistics 3311 Toledo Road Hyattsville, Maryland 20782 ... Emergency visits for sports-related injuries. Ann Emerg Med. ...

Sports Injury Statistics
Other national surveys have highlighted the problem of sports injuries among children and adolescents. During the years 1997-1998, an estimated 2.6 million ...

Sports Injury Statistics - Lucile Packard Children's Hospital
In the United States, about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports, and more than 3.5 million injuries each year, ...

Sports Injury Statistics - My Child Has - Children's Hospital Boston
Flower Sports Injury Statistics ... Although death from a sports injury is rare, the leading cause of death from a sports-related injury is a brain injury. ...

sports related injuries
Common sport injuries - prevention, statistics, stretching exercises and ... common sport injuries, sport related injuries, sport injury statistics, ...

Sports injury rates: U.S. statistics on all sports injuries.
As the definitive U.S. study on the subject, the Comprehensive Study of Sports Injuries in the U.S. reveals injury statistics and sports injury rates as ...

Sports injury experiences from the Western Australian sports ...
injury statistics for. professional sport may not necessarily be translatable to community-level sports. ...

Sports Injury Statistics
National Injury Information Clearinghouse. Estimates for Sports Injuries 1998 (1998 Statistics should be released from the CPSC in July of 2000) ...

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