SUNDAY, Aug. 8, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Fractures are the fourth most common type of injury suffered by high school athletes in the United States and can be serious and costly, a new study has found.
Ligament sprains, muscle sprains and bruising occur more often, but an analysis of 2005-2009 national data found that 95 percent of fractures required expensive diagnostic imaging (such as X-rays, MRIs and CT scans) and 16 percent led to surgery.
Compared to other types of injuries, fractures also resulted in more lost playing time. Most fractures led to three weeks or more time lost (34 percent) or medical disqualification from sports participation (24 percent), according to researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
The most common fracture sites were hand and finger (28 percent), wrist (10 percent) and lower leg (9 percent). Boys suffered the majority of fractures (83 percent), and contact between athletes was the cause of about half of all fractures, the investigators noted.
The study also found that nearly 10 percent of fractures were caused by illegal play.
"Illegal activities represent a preventable cause that should be targeted by prevention programs. Increasing penalties, strict enforcement of current penalties, and better education about rules and the dangers associated with breaking the rules could all help in reducing injuries related to illegal activities," study author Dawn Comstock, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a hospital news release.
The study was published in the July issue of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.
"Fractures are a major concern for U.S. high school athletes. They can severely affect the athletes' ability to continue sports participation and can impose substantial medical costs on the injured athletes' families," Comstock said. "Establishing measures to reduce fractures among U.S. high school athletes should be an important part of sports injury prevention policies."
The Nemours Foundation has more about preventing sports injuries.