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Nearly 5% of Youngsters Suffer Sports Injuries, Study Finds

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Among football players, 48% of injuries occurred when a player was struck by an opponent's helmet, and 9% involved inappropriate field conditions, including falls on or against concrete, glass, or fixed objects.

In a related article in the same journal, the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness report that as soccer increases in popularity, more information will be needed to find out what measures are needed to protect players of that sport. "When it comes to soccer, we need more work to understand what protective gear soccer players need and what rules the game needs to change to protect players," Cheng says.

In the soccer article, researchers report that bruises to the legs were the most common injuries. But they also found many injuries involving the goalpost. From 1979 to 1993, they say, falling goalposts accounted for 27 injuries, including 18 deaths.

"Because soccer-related fatalities have been strongly linked with head impact on goalposts, goalposts should be secured in a manner consistent with guidelines developed by manufacturers and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission," they write.

One expert, Lewis G. Maharam, MD, sports medicine specialist in New York and the president of New York chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, points out that while precautions are crucial for youngsters who play sports, "it's far worse to be a sofa spud than to be out there exercising."

"With any sport, there's a chance of getting hurt," Maharam says. "Just as you would wear a bike helmet or have a safety seat in the car for children, certain equipment can protect kids in certain sports." For example, in-line skaters should wear wrist pads, knee pads and helmets, and tennis players should have proper shoes and a racquet of the correct size, he tells WebMD.

"The best advice for parents," he says, "is to make sure their kids are properly equipped for the sport they play."

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