According to a recent study, from 1990 through 2014, the number of soccer-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments in the US increased by 78% and the yearly rate of injuries increased by 111% among youth ages 7 to 17.

The study was published recently in the journal Pediatrics.

“The sport of soccer has changed dramatically in the last 25 years,” says Huiyun Xiang, MD, MPH, PhD, the study’s senior author, in a media release from Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“We’re seeing athletes play year-round now thanks to club, travel and rec leagues, and the intensity of play is higher than it ever has been. These factors combine to lead to more risk of injury,” adds Xiang, director of research core at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The majority of the injuries were sprains or strains (35%), fractures (23%) or soft tissue injuries (22%). While concussions and other closed-head injuries (CHIs) only accounted for just over 7% of the injuries overall, the rate of concussions/CHIs increased 1596% during the study period. Athletes with concussions/CHI were twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital as patients with other diagnoses.

The study also found that most of the injuries occurred when a player was struck by either another player or the ball (39%) or when they fell (29%). Older children and adolescents ages 12 to 17 years accounted for the majority of the injuries (73%), and girls were more likely than boys to sustain a knee or an ankle injury, the release continues.

“While we can’t tell from our data why the rate of concussions among soccer players is increasing, it is important for athletes and families to be aware of this issue and what they can do to reduce the risks,” notes Tracy Mehan, MA, manager of translational research at the Center for Injury Research and Policy, in the release.

“Young athletes take longer to recover from concussions than older athletes and they can put themselves at risk for second-impact syndrome and repeat concussions if they return to play too soon – both of which can lead to serious, life-altering injuries,” she adds.

[Source(s): Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Newswise]