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Quantifying the risk of sports injury: a systematic review of activity-specific rates for children under 16 years of age
  1. Anneliese B Spinks,
  2. Roderick J McClure
  1. School of Medicine, Griffith University, Meadowbrook, Queensland, Australia
  1. A Spinks, School of Medicine, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Queensland 4131, Australia; a.spinks{at}


Injuries caused by sports and other forms of physical activity in young children constitute a significant public health burden. It is important to quantify this risk to ensure that the benefits of sport participation are not outweighed by the potential harms. This review summarises the literature reporting exposure-based injury rates for various forms of physical activity in children aged 15 years and younger. Forty eight studies were found, of which 27 reported injury rates per hourly based exposure measured and 21 reported injury rates according to some other measure. Fourteen different sports and activities were covered, mostly team ball sports, with soccer being the most widely studied. Injury definition and the method of ascertaining and measuring injuries differed between studies, which created a large variation in reported injury rates that did not necessarily represent actual differences in injury risk between activities. The highest hourly based injury rates were reported for ice hockey, and the lowest were for soccer, although the range of injury rates for both of these activities was wide. Very few studies have investigated sports-related injuries in children younger than 8 years or in unorganised sports situations.

  • injury rates
  • children
  • exposure

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  • Competing interests: None.

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