Research Article: Injuries and concussions among young children, ages 5-11, playing sports in recreational leagues in Florida

Date Published: May 15, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Karen D. Liller, Barbara Morris, Yingwei Yang, Omonigho M. Bubu, Brad Perich, Jessica Fillion, Filipe Manuel Clemente.


The specific research aims of this study included: 1) Conduct an epidemiologic analysis of recreational sports injuries among 1500 children, ages 5–11 in Florida: and 2) Utilize the computerized pediatric concussion tool from ImPACT Applications, Inc. for baseline and follow-up testing to better understand these injuries. This research followed a prospective surveillance design utilizing a large cohort of children, ages, 5–11, who play recreational football, soccer, and baseball/softball in Florida. The study venue was a large athletic facility in Hillsborough County, Florida. The sports observed were soccer (girls’ and boys’), baseball, softball, and football. Internal and external advisory boards were consulted throughout the study.

Certified Athletic Trainers (ATCs) were hired to use High School Reporting Information Online (RIO) for injuries and the Ipad-administered pediatric concussion tool developed by ImPACT Applications, Inc for baseline/follow-up concussion data.

Over the course of the project, 26 RIO-reported injuries were reported. Football and soccer produced the greatest rate of injuries. There were 12 concussions which comprised nearly half of all the RIO injuries (46%). We conducted 882 baseline concussion tests and 13 follow-up tests over the 2 years.

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time data have been collected and reported on sports injuries in the study population. Future studies built on these findings will allow for the development of targeted guidelines and interventions for coaches, players, and parents so sports injury-related morbidity and mortality decrease in our youngest athletes.

Partial Text

Injuries related to sports and recreation are a substantial public health problem [1]. While it is important to promote physical activity in children and adolescents, sports injuries are also important to assess. [2]. Based on the National Health Interview Survey findings for individuals 5 years of age and older from years-2011-2014, sports and recreational injury rates were higher among males, children aged 5–14 years, and non-Hispanic white persons than for their counterparts [2]. General exercise was the most frequently mentioned activity associated with sports- and recreation-related injuries, but types of activities varied across sex and age groups. Body regions injured while engaging in sports and recreation activities included the lower extremity (42.0%), upper extremity (30.3%), and head and neck (16.4%) [2].

To date, our study produced some of the only injury and concussion findings on children, ages 5–11, playing sports in recreational leagues. The results of our project have shown that children, between the ages of 5–11, who play sports in recreational leagues do get injured and nearly half of these injuries are concussions. Over the course of the two years of this project 26 RIO-reportable injuries occurred, of which nearly half were concussions (N = 12). Over 1,500 athletes were observed per year and we conducted 882 ImPACT Pediatric baseline tests with 13 follow-ups. The leading sports for RIO-reportable injury rates was football (year 1) and soccer (year 2). None of the injuries reported required surgery. Concussions were the leading injury in both years of the study, with Year 2 showing only concussions reported. While much is being learned about concussions in professional athletes and those athletes in high school and college settings, a great deal more needs to be understood for the youngest players, especially those who are playing in more uncontrolled settings, including recreational leagues. In addition, parents of youth participants should be adequately informed of concussion information, especially those who are non-English speaking and need materials that are culturally appropriate [17].

The results of our research showed that children, ages 5–11, playing sports in recreational leagues do get injured and that concussions is a leading cause of injury across the sports studied. The RIO and the ImPACT Pediatric tools proved successful in terms of data collection and analysis over the two years of the study.




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