Orthop J Sports Med. 2023 Oct 26;11(10):23259671231205317. doi: 10.1177/23259671231205317. eCollection 2023 Oct.
BACKGROUND: The first 2 years of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic had a profound effect on youth sports participation.
PURPOSE: The primary aim of this study was to explore the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth sports injury patterns, with a secondary aim of comparing organized team and individual sport-related injuries in diverse age groups.
STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiology study.
METHODS: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) was searched to identify injuries sustained by patients aged 11 to 23 years while playing organized team or individual sports from 2017 to 2021. We investigated reports of concussions, dislocations, fractures, and sprains/strains.
RESULTS: Between 2017 and 2021, there were 58,721 and 3778 team and individual sport-related injuries, respectively. When compared with the prepandemic years, there was a 57.07% decrease in 2020 and 22.31% decrease in 2021 for the number of organized team sport-related injuries. Organized individual sport-related injuries had a 56.24% and 35.18% decrease in number in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Male patients were most likely to be injured in team sports (81.0%), and female patients were most likely to be injured in individual sports (67.1%). High school athletes sustained the majority of injuries in team (57.0%) and individual (51.2%) sports. The years 2020 and 2021 saw a decrease in proportion of sprains/strains and an increase in proportion of fractures.
CONCLUSION: The number of organized sport-related injuries reported to emergency departments decreased in 2020, and despite vaccinations and easing of social distancing, the 2021 value did not return to what it was prepandemic. As coronavirus-related restrictions have eased, there should be careful monitoring of sports injuries among youth athletes.