Published 5/1/2010
Lisa Weisenberger

Putting a STOP to sports injuries

By Lisa Weisenberger

New campaign aimed at helping young athletes play safe and stay healthy

Sports injuries among young athletes are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high school athletes alone account for an estimated 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations every year.

“Regardless of whether the athlete is a professional, an amateur, an Olympian, or a young recreational athlete, the number of sports injuries is increasing—but the escalation of injuries in kids is the most alarming,” said James R. Andrews, MD, president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).

That’s why the AOSSM and the AAOS have joined the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and SAFE Kids USA in introducing the STOP (Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention) Sports Injuries campaign. The campaign will educate athletes, parents, trainers, coaches, and healthcare providers about the rapid increase in youth sports injuries, the necessary steps to help reverse the trend and the need to keep young athletes healthy.

“Armed with the correct information and tools, today’s young athletes can remain healthy, play safe and stay in the game for life,” said Dr. Andrews, who is also the STOP Sports Injuries campaign cochair.

“The goal of this initiative is to slow, and eventually halt, the rising rate of injuries in young athletes so that these kids can become healthy adults who enjoy exercise, camaraderie, and physical health for life,” said AAOS President John J. Callaghan, MD. “We support the STOP Sports Injuries campaign because when the parents, trainers, coaches, and healthcare providers have the best information about injury prevention and treatment, they all can work together—and with the athlete—to keep him or her safe.”

Raising awareness
Orthopaedic surgeons are currently seeing two trends: a rapid rise in the number of youth sports injuries and a drop in the age of young athletes with overuse injuries.

“The increasing number of youth sports injuries affects everyone involved in a young athlete’s life—coaches, parents, trainers and healthcare providers. We created the STOP Sports Injuries campaign to raise awareness about the problem and provide accurate information to keep the lines of communication open and ensure that young athletes stay healthy, stay on the field and stay out of the operating room,” said Dr. Andrews.

The high rate of youth sports injuries is fueled by an increase in overuse and trauma injuries and a lack of attention paid to proper injury prevention. According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.

“As a baseball player and a father, preventing sports injuries to both me and my children is a priority. Having seen the benefits of good health and the setbacks of injury, we need to create a stronger awareness of the importance of proper techniques, open lines of communication, and encouraging safe play with athletes. This will keep young athletes healthy and in the game,” said John Smoltz, former Major League Baseball player. “The STOP Sports Injuries campaign sets out to give parents and athletes important tools to accomplish these goals and reduce youth sports injuries.”

The STOP Sports Injuries campaign will feature public service announcements, a Web site with information about sport-specific injuries, and The Pledge for athletes, parents, coaches, and healthcare providers to support. The campaign Web site and pledge are available at www.stopsportsinjuries.org

Lisa Weisenberger is director of communications for the AOSSM. She can be reached at lisa@aossm.org