Journal of Athletic Training New Study: Overuse Injuries in Youth and High School Football Players

Source: National Athletic Trainers’ Association

 The National Athletic Trainers’ Association announces a new study, "The Epidemiology of Overuse Conditions in Youth Football and High School Football Players,"  just released online first and ahead of print in the Journal of Athletic Training. The journal is NATA’s scientific publication.

According to the authors, this study is the first to compare the rates, risks and distributions of overuse conditions as well as non–time-loss injuries between youth and high school football players.

Key Statistics:

  •             It is estimated that more than 50 percent of youth sports injuries are overuse conditions, and half of these injuries are preventable.1
  •             Overuse injuries represent nearly 20 percent of all emergency department visits, costing approximately $448 million a year.2
  •             In 2012, approximately 394,000 football-related injuries in athletes 19 years and under presented to emergency departments.3

Objective: To examine the rates, risks and distributions of overuse conditions between youth football and high school football. 

Patients or Other Participants: The Youth Football Safety Study (YFSS) investigated youth football athletes ages 5 to 14 years old. The National Athletic Treatment, Injury and Outcomes Network (NATION) focused on high school football athletes ages 14 to 18 years old. The YFSS consisted of 210 team-seasons, and NATION consisted of 138 team-seasons.

Data Collection and Analysis: Athletic trainers collected football injury and exposure data during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Results: The YFSS reported 1,488 injuries, of which 53 (3.6 percent) were overuse conditions. The NATION reported 12,013 injuries, of which 339 (2.8 percent) were overuse conditions. The overuse condition rate did not differ between high school and youth football players; however, the one-season risk of an overuse condition was higher in high school than youth football players. Compared with high school football players, youth football players had greater proportions of overuse conditions that were non-time loss and involved the lower extremity.

Key Points:

  •             A low incidence of overuse conditions was reported in youth football and high school football players.
  •             High school football athletes had a higher risk of overuse injury than youth football athletes, but not a higher overuse injury rate.

Overuse conditions may not present a primary concern in youth and high school football, says an author of the study, Janet Simon, PhD, ATC, assistant professor, School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, Division of Athletic Training, Ohio University and a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. “However, differences existed between the two levels of competition. Although additional research on the incidence of overuse conditions across all youth and high school sports is needed, these findings highlight the need for programming that may be specific to competition level.”

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