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CDC Estimates Seven Million Americans Receive Medical Attention For Sports and Recreation-Related Injuries Each Year

Last updated March 18, 2020

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

An estimated seven million Americans receive medical attention for sports and recreation-related injuries each year, revealed a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Examining information from 1997 through 1999, researchers found almost one-third of these injuries occur at sports facilities. Basketball ranked as the lead sport for injuries among organized and backyard or pickup games. The study report, published in the June issue of Injury Prevention, is among the first to examine all medically attended injuries from sports and recreation-related injuries for all ages.


CDC Estimates Seven Million Americans

Receive Medical Attention For

Sports and Recreation-Related Injuries Each Year

An estimated seven million Americans receive medical attention for sports and recreation-related injuries each year, revealed a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Examining information from 1997 through 1999, researchers found almost one-third of these injuries occur at sports facilities. Basketball ranked as the lead sport for injuries among organized and backyard or pickup games. The study report, published in the June issue of Injury Prevention, is among the first to examine all medically attended injuries from sports and recreation-related injuries for all ages.

Researchers found that the greatest number of people (64.4 percent) treated for sports and recreational-related injuries range from age 5 to 24-years old. Twenty percent of those students injured missed one or more days of school; and more than 25 percent of working Americans injured lost one or more workdays due to their sports or recreational -related injuries.

“Physical activity is a cornerstone for good health,” said Sue Binder, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "Appropriate physical conditioning, the use of safety gear, and community involvement to provide opportunities for safe recreation is important for children and adults.”

The study provides estimates on sports and recreation-related injuries in the United States. Additional findings are:

For children ages five through 14-years old who received medical attention for a sports and recreation-related injury, pedal cycling was the most common activity. Basketball ranked as the top sport for those 15-24 that were injured, while those 25 years or older were frequently injured in recreational sports such as racket sports, biking, golfing, bowling, jogging or exercising.

Males reported a sports and recreation-related injury rate more than twice that of females.

Males were commonly injured during basketball, football or pedal cycling, while females were injured during exercising, gymnastics/ cheerleading or basketball.

Almost one third (30.7 percent) of sports and recreation-related injuries happened at a sports facility. Schools ranked second with 19.7 percent, followed by home at 16.5 percent.

Hospitalization was required for 3 percent of the people in this study.

This report entitled, “Sports and recreation related injury episodes in the U.S. population, 1997-99” is based on an annual face-to-face survey conducted by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The study can be found on the web at www.injuryprevention.com.

For more information about injury prevention, visit CDC Injury’s website at: www.cdc.gov/injury.

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CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 18, 2020
Last updated: March 18, 2020