Doctors, parents team up to STOP sports injuries

Sports seem to saturate our lives. In fact, it’s hard to go through a day without reading, hearing or seeing something about sports. The enthusiasm for sports certainly has no age limit. Studies show that there are over 45 million young athletes in the United States participating in a broad range of sports activities.

Yet with this increased participation comes increased risk. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that sports or athletics are the leading cause of adolescent injuries in this country. High school athletes in the U.S. account for approximately 2 million sports injuries/year, and 3.5 million children under age 14 receive medical treatment each year for sports injuries. What’s the reason for this alarmingly high rate of injury? Is it too much, too fast, too soon? Recent data suggests a variety of factors including:

  • Improper technique
  • Inappropriately fitting equipment
  • Training errors
  • Coach/Parental/Peer pressure
  • Failure to recognize developing injuries
  • Emergence of “Sports Specialization” at an early age
  • Inherent musculoskeletal imbalance in the growing athlete

Having recognized this apparent epidemic of sports-related injury in youth, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), a world leader in sports medicine research and education, has initiated the STOP Sports Injury Campaign. The purposes of this program are to:

  • Raise public awareness concerning youth sports injuries
  • Mobilize the sports physician membership of the AOSSM
  • Provide educational materials for parents, coaches, and youth athletes
  • Promote research on youth sports injury prevention & treatment
  • Establish a National Resource Center for youth sports injury prevention
  • And most importantly, to reduce the incidence of youth sports injuries

In order to achieve these goals, the AOSSM STOP Sports Injury Campaign has:

  • Integrated the existing epidemiologic research data on youth sports injuries
  • Developed and published comprehensive, sport-specific tips for injury prevention
  • Partnered with other National Health & Sports Organizations (i.e. CDC, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Pediatric Society, National Athletic Trainers Association, NCAA, Safe Kids USA, etc.) as well as national and globally identified athletes in a broad spectrum of sports
  • Initiated youth-specific research studies on injury prevention & treatment
  • Developed a grass-roots program through which the AOSSM Sports Physician members can speak to parents, coaches, and youth athletes at local, regional, and national levels

All this information can be easily located through the AOSSM web site ( or the STOP Sports Injury web site ( Hopefully, these efforts will help reduce the incidence of youth sports injuries as well as:

  • Encourage playing safely
  • Prolong an athlete’s career
  • Promote teamwork
  • Increase fitness
  • Reduce obesity

As an Orthopedic Sports Medicine physician, a member of the AOSSM STOP Sports Injury Steering Committee and most importantly having been the father of youth athletes, I take this all very seriously.

So if you have a young athlete in your family, go to these resources to learn more… we owe it to them. And together, we can help keep them on the playing field and in the game, thereby promoting a lifelong love of sport, exercise and healthy activity.

-          By Michael G. Ciccotti, MD

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