Youth Soccer gets Aggressive

A new study of children’s soccer injuries released Monday in the journal Pediatrics found soaring rates of concussions, broken bones, lacerations, torn tendons and ankle sprains since 1990.

Part of the rise can be explained by increased awareness of concussion risks and higher reporting of head injuries, a trend that is common in most youth sports.

That suggests that as more kids play soccer year round and the game gets more competitive, a child’s risk for injury has also increased.

For every 10,000 children who played soccer in 2014, 223 of them suffered an injury serious enough to be treated in a hospital emergency room.

That represents a 74 percent increase from 2004, when the injury rate was 128.5 injuries per 10,000 kids.

But when the researchers removed head injuries from the data, they found that injuries still increased by 60 percent, to 191 per 10,000 kids in 2014, up from 119 in 2004.

The data, from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance system and the National Sporting Goods Association, included children ages 7-17 who played soccer and had injuries that led to treatment at an emergency room between 1990 and 2014.

Brian Hafter, of San Bruno, California, who has been coaching and refereeing girls’ youth soccer leagues for eight years, said he has noticed a substantial difference in the way kids play soccer now compared with how he and his sister grew up playing it.

Green, the pediatric orthopedist, said his own study of injuries in New York state showed that in the past 20 years, there is a threefold increase in the rate of surgery for childhood sports injuries.