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Survey: A Third of Students in 2 Sports Injured

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An estimated one-third of all high-school wrestlers and nearly one-quarter of all high-school basketball players were sidelined by injuries during the 1987-88 school year, according to projections from the National Athletic Trainers' Association.

The new injury-surveillance studies are part of the NATA'S nationwide effort to demonstrate why schools should provide better health care for the schools' some six million interscholastic athletes, said Jerry Rhea, the association's president.

The organization has called on schools to minimize risks by employing health-care professionals such as athletic trainers and team physicians.

This is the second year that the NATA has conducted the injury studies on football, wrestling, and boys' and girls' basketball. In February, the association released a study estimating that 37 percent of the nation's one million precollegiate football players were injured during the 1987 season. (See Education Week, Feb. 17, 1988.)

Preliminary results from the survey of wrestling-related injuries found 30 percent of the 273,000 wrestlers were hurt last season. Wrestlers also had a greater frequency of major injuries, those requiring three weeks or more to heal, than football players. Of the wrestling injuries, 15 percent were classified as major, compared with 11 percent of the football-related injuries.

Officials said because of the demands of the sport, they were not surprised that wrestlers suffered more major injuries than other high-school athletes.

The separate study on basketball injuries estimated that 23 percent of the 697,000 male and female players were injured at least once during the 1987-88 season. It found the injury rates for the sexes to be identical.

Sprains and strains were the most common ailment among athletes in both sports.

The injury estimates for both sports were based on medical records kept by a sampling of student athletes across the country.

The injury rates of high-school athletes are similar to those of college and professional players, the NATA says. "The difference is more with the availability of health care than with injuries,'' said Otho Davis, the association's executive director.

While college and professional players are well attended, only 15 percent of the nation's high schools have "acceptable day-to-day health care,'' Mr. Davis said. --NM

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