OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the epidemiology of youth soccer-related injuries treated in emergency departments in the United States.

METHODS:

A retrospective analysis was conducted of soccer-related injuries among children 7 through 17 years of age from 1990 through 2014 with data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Injury rates were calculated from soccer participation data.

RESULTS:

An estimated 2 995 765 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2 309 112–3 682 418) children 7 through 17 years old were treated in US emergency departments for soccer-related injuries during the 25-year study period, averaging 119 831 (95% CI, 92 364–147 297) annually. The annual injury rate per 10 000 soccer participants increased significantly, by 111.4%, from 1990 to 2014. Patients 12 to 17 years old accounted for 72.7% of injuries, 55.5% of patients were male, and most injuries occurred in a place of sport or recreation (68.5%) or school (25.7%). Struck by (38.5%) and fell (28.7%) were the leading mechanisms of injury. Injuries most commonly were diagnosed as sprain or strain (34.6%), fracture (23.2%), and soft tissue injury (21.9%), and occurred to the upper extremity (20.7%), ankle (17.8%), and head or neck (17.7%). Concussions or other closed head injuries accounted for 7.3% of the injuries, but the annual rate of concussions/closed head injuries per 10 000 participants increased significantly, by 1595.6%, from 1990 to 2014.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study is the first to comprehensively investigate soccer-related injuries and calculate injury rates based on soccer participation data among children at the national level. The increasing number and rate of pediatric soccer-related injuries, especially soccer-related concussions/closed head injuries, underscore the need for increased efforts to prevent these injuries.

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