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Fewer Kids Getting Hurt in Most Sports: Study

However, football and soccer injuries have risen over past decade

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Football and soccer injuries also increased to a larger extent for children between 10 and 14 years old compared to children between 5 and 9 years old.

These trends "may reflect the changing pattern of exposure in kids," Parikh said. "There may be a decrease in bicycling and an increase in football [injuries] as kids are doing more organized sports than free play."

The push could be coming from parents, coaches and schools alike, Parikh said. He added, however, that "free play is equally important and we should not be pushing them into organized sports because they can be more competitive."

Dr. Corinna Franklin, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Shriner's Hospital for Children in Boston, agreed.

"Overuse and overtraining are also major concerns," Franklin said. "As children become good at competitive sports, there is sometimes an impulse to keep them in the same sport year round, which may not be the healthiest thing for a young athlete."

Parikh added that kids also aren't stretching, warming up or cooling down properly, although the protective equipment in most sports seems to be adequate.

On the bright side, injuries related to bicycling and trampoline use have probably decreased because of better safety, and not just because kids are doing less of it, Parikh said.

A big reason for the decrease in total injuries related to bicycling is probably because of fewer head injuries, Parikh said. "More kids may be using helmets and there is more adult supervision and protective gear," he added.

Parikh attributed improved safety partly to policy statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations, which could have increased efforts among physicians to make parents and coaches more aware of how to prevent injuries.

Franklin said she is hopeful that the STOP Sports Injuries campaign and website from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine for parents, coaches and doctors will help as well.

Data and conclusions from studies presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

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