Sports Injuries Raise Cost of Active Life
Is Injury the Price of a Healthy Lifestyle
June 18, 2003 -- Physical activity is a vital part of a healthy
lifestyle, but a new study suggests that living an active life may also come at
a price. Researchers found an estimated 7 million Americans seek medical
attention for sports-related injuries each year -- a figure up to 42% higher
than previous estimates based on emergency room visits alone.
And those sprains and strains may be costing the health-care
system and economy in a variety of ways. According to the CDC study, one fifth
of schoolchildren and more than one quarter of working adults who suffered a
sports injury that required medical attention missed one or more days of school
or work because of the injury.
Researchers say the findings show that as physical activity is
increasingly promoted as a critical part of a healthy lifestyle, sports
injuries are becoming an important public health issue for both children and
adults. As a result, injury prevention efforts need to go beyond targeting
children and start addressing the risks faced by physically active adults as
"Everyone needs to be aware that any activity can lead to
injury, and choosing an activity that is appropriate for you is important,"
says researcher Julie Gilchrist, MD, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC's
injury center. "And people should also be aware that while you might enjoy
a certain activity, there is most often a way to do it more safely."
Sports Injuries Hurt Adults, Too
Researchers say most previous studies have looked at sports
injuries among children and adolescents, baby boomers, and those injuries that
resulted in a trip to the emergency room. But this study looked at sports
injury rates across all ages that required medical attention of any kind, such
as at a doctor's office, urgent care clinic, or emergency room.
Using information gathered by the National Health Interview
Survey (NHIS), the study examined injuries associated with a sport or
recreational activity that occurred from 1997 to 1999. The results appear in
the June issue of Injury Prevention.
Overall, researchers found an average of about 26 sports
injuries requiring medical attention were reported per 1,000 people each year.
Strains and sprains were the most frequent type of sports injuries reported,
followed by fractures (broken bones), cuts and other open wounds, and bumps and
Males had nearly twice the rate of sports injuries compared
with females, and most injuries occurred at a sports facility (31%), at school
(20%), or around the home (17%). Sports injuries were most often the result of
being struck by an object, falling, or overextension of a joint or muscle.
Nearly two-thirds of those sports injuries were reported among
people between the ages of 5 and 24, and injury rates were highest among the 5-
to 14-year-old age group, with an average of 59 injuries per 1,000