OBJECTIVE: The goal was to describe the epidemiological features of physical education (PE)-related injuries treated in US emergency departments.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted with data for children and adolescents (5–18 years of age) from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance Study of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, from 1997 through 2007. Sample weights provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System were used to calculate national estimates of PE-related injuries. Trend significance of the number of PE-related injuries over time was analyzed by using linear regression analysis.

RESULTS: An estimated 405305 children and adolescents were treated in emergency departments for PE-related injuries. The annual number of cases increased 150% during the study period (P = .001). Nearly 70% of PE-related injuries occurred during 6 activities, that is, running, basketball, football, volleyball, soccer, and gymnastics. Boys' injuries were more likely to involve the head, to be diagnosed as a laceration or fracture, to be attributable to contact with a person or structure, and to occur during group activities. Girls' injuries were more likely to involve the lower extremities, to be strains and sprains, to be acute noncontact injuries, and to occur during individual activities.

CONCLUSION: More research is needed to identify the cause of the increase in PE-related injuries, to examine the gender difference in PE-related injuries, and to determine appropriate injury prevention solutions and policies.

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