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Children account for almost half of sport-related A&E visits

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Almost half of sport injury-related emergency department attendances and almost a quarter of sport injury-related hospital admissions are in children and adolescents, according to a UK study.

The high burden of sport-related injuries has been highlighted by researchers from Newcastle University and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“Making organised sports as safe as possible needs to be part of any effective child obesity strategy”

Graham Kirkwood

Their study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, analysed injury attendances recorded at two NHS hospitals in Oxford and Banbury between 1 January 2012 and 30 March 2014.

Of the 63,877 attendances, 11,676 were sport-related, with 5,533 in 0-19 year olds. Researchers found 14-year-old boys and 12-year-old girls were most at risk of sustaining a sports injury.

For boys, the three main sports involved in injuries were football, rugby union and rugby league and for girls, trampoline, netball and horse-riding.

Almost a quarter of the injuries were fractures, the highest percentage to the upper limbs.

Rugby union was the sport most associated with head injury and concussion in boys and for girls, head injuries were most common during horse riding.

The researchers suggested that local authorities and schools should consider targeting sport injury prevention at children in the first four years of secondary school.

“This study has some shed some light on the causes and scale of sport injuries”

Allyson Pollock

They said that, for younger age groups, trampolines in the home warranted improved safety and that rugby and horse-riding should also be a focus for interventions.

Study author Dr Tom Hughes said: “Emergency department reception staff do a great job collecting injury data on our patients, and by using this information, we can prevent injuries.

“This analysis highlights areas we should be exploring to see how we can make everyday activities a bit safer without being boring,” said Dr Hughes from John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Graham Kirkwood, senior research associate at Newcastle University, said: “These figures are equivalent to 68 boys and 34 girls in every thousand attending NHS emergency departments in a year.

“This is a heavy burden on the NHS and on children and families from sport-related injury,” he noted.

He added: “Children need to be physically active but making organised sports as safe as possible needs to be part of any effective child obesity strategy.”

Professor Allyson Pollock, also from Newcastle University, said: “This study has some shed some light on the causes and scale of sport injuries and should act as a springboard for injury prevention initiatives in child sport, targeted specifically at the causal mechanisms for these often serious injuries.”

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