is Safest of All Extreme Sports!
Sports Mishaps are Common -- But Less Than 1 in 5 Are Serious
Injury Rates for Most Extreme Sports and Exercise Activities are Relatively Low
Women Incur 40% of all Sports Injuries
Sports mishaps are often self treated. Paintball is not a common figure.
There may have been 20.3 million sports mishaps in the U.S. in 2002, but
most were very minor: ankle twists, scrapes, bruises and jammed fingers
accounted for a majority of these momentary setbacks. 11.2 million injuries
(53%) were self-treated (or untreated), while 6.1 million (30%) did not even
hinder subsequent participation in the sport or activity; only 3.4 million
sports injuries were serious enough to require Emergency Room treatment. These
were among the preliminary findings of a Comprehensive Study of Sports Injuries
in the U.S., conducted by American Sports Data, Inc. (ASD) a Hartsdale,
N.Y.-based firm specializing in sports and fitness research.
Because of their larger populations, Basketball, Running and Soccer yielded
the highest number of injuries--2.8 million, 1.7 million and 1.6 million
respectively. Not unexpectedly, Tackle Football had the highest injury rate in
2002--18.8 per 100 players. "But on average, this means one injury every 5
player/years, and not necessarily a serious one at that," says ASD
president Harvey Lauer. Ice Hockey, Boxing and Martial Arts have injury rates
of 15.9%, 12.7% and 10.2%--translating to just one injury every 6, 8 and 10
years, respectively. The rates of injury requiring ER treatment are much lower:
Football (6.1%); Hockey (6.6%); Boxing (11.5%); and Martial Arts (0.4%).
The most practical method of assessing risk potential in a sport is to
measure the number of injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures--i.e. the number of
times a participant engages in the activity over the course of a year. Using
this method, Boxing ranks first with 5.2 injuries per 1,000 exposures, followed
by Tackle Football (3.8), Snowboarding (3.8), Ice Hockey (3.7), Alpine Skiing
(3.0), Soccer (2.4), Softball (2.2) and Basketball (1.9).
With the exception of Snowboarding (which ranks third), none of the other
so-called "Extreme" sports carries a particularly high risk of injury.
Surfing is 10th in risk potential (1.8 injuries per 1,000 exposures); Mountain
Biking 18th (1.2 per thousand); Skateboarding 22nd (0.8 per thousand); and BMX
24th, also with 0.8. In-Line Roller-Skating places 27th with only 0.4 injuries
per 1,000 athlete exposures.
40% of all sports injuries were incurred by women--an oblique and perhaps
unwelcome confirmation of their near-parity with men in U.S. sports
participation. And lest we presume that female injuries are somehow more benign,
women also account for 37% of all ER sports injuries. In view of the strong
female presence in Soccer, Volleyball and Cheerleading (all higher-risk
activities) these findings are not surprising.
Children aged 6-17 represent only 19% of the 6+ population, but 38% of all
sports injuries, and 46% of ER admissions. Boys in the 12-17 age group are the
highest at-risk segment; with barely 5% of the population, they account for 17%
of all sports injuries, and 23% of those requiring ER treatment.
The rate of injury for individual exercise activities appears extremely low.
While Runners/Joggers racked up 1.7 million injuries in 2002, (a number
surpassed only by Basketball), the incidence of Running injuries was relatively
subdued--only 0.6 per 1,000 exposures, compared with 1.9 for Basketball and 3.8
for Snowboarding. Half of all running injuries (52%) were of the gradual/overuse
variety--not sudden/traumatic incidents.
Injuries resulting from equipment exercise were rare. Among those who
trained with free weights or weight machines, 1.1 million were injured in
2002--an incidence of only 0.1 per 1,000 exposures. For Treadmill usage, the
most popular form of cardio equipment exercise, the injury rate was also a
microscopic 0.1 per 1,000 exposures. Even lower rates were found for Stationary
Cycling and Stair-Climbing Machines.
A lower-than-expected injury rate appeared for Wrestling. With only 1.4
injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures, the sport placed 15th in the standings.
Hunting registered only 0.8 per 1,000, for a ranking of 23rd. And in a
not-too-surprising measurement, Softball was found to have a higher injury
potential than Baseball--2.2 per 1,000 exposures versus 1.4 for Baseball. In
Baseball, 63% of all injuries occurred in either the elbow (18%), shoulder
(18%), knee (15%), or ankle (12%). For Softball, shoulder (17%), ankle (15%),
knee (11%) and finger injuries (10%) accounted for 53% of the total. These data--along
with the specific injury descriptions reported by Baseball and Softball players--strongly
suggest that only a small percentage of all Baseball/Softball injuries are the
result of a thrown or batted ball.
It has been widely assumed that for a variety of reasons, sports injury
rates are skyrocketing; but overall trends in sports injuries are, according to
Lauer, unknown. "For one thing, there hasn’t been a dedicated national
consumer survey done in nearly 30 years--certainly not a ‘numerator/denominator’
study that addressed both injuries and sports participation in the same
questionnaire," he said. By definition, the well-known emergency room
study conducted by the Consumer Products Safety Commission documents only more
serious sports injuries.
A Comprehensive Study of Sports Injuries in the U.S. is derived from the
Superstudy® of Sports Participation, conducted in January 2003 and based on a
nationally representative sample of 15,063 people over the age of 6 who were
among 25,000 respondents targeted in a sample drawn from the consumer mail
panel of NFO Research, Inc. 103 sports and activities were measured along over
20 demographic, attitudinal and behavioral dimensions. This annual tracking
study has been conducted by ASD every year since 1987. For more information,
call (914) 328-8877, or log onto www.americansportsdata.com/sports-injury1.asp.
The price of the report is $595.