Injuries Sideline a Third of Football Players

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In 1987, for the second consecutive year, an estimated 37 percent of all high-school football players were sidelined by injury at some point during the season, a national survey indicates.

Sprains and strains accounted for about half of the injuries sustained by the estimated 1 million students who played football last year, and nearly three-quarters of all injuries reported took less than a week to heal. But more than 11 percent of the injuries were major, sidelining players for at least three weeks, the survey found.

The survey, the second conducted by the National Athletic Trainers' Association, was based on data collected by certified trainers at 134 schools that had a total of 7,886 football players. Because fewer than 15 percent of all high-school athletic programs have athletic trainers, the group said, actual injury rates may be even higher.

Extrapolating from its survey sample, the association estimated that a total of 516,716 injuries sidelined players during the 1987 football season, 19 percent fewer than the estimated 636,239 that occurred during the 1986 season. But the number of injuries that incapacitated players for at least three weeks increased by 5 percent, the data showed.

The association estimates that there were 13,612 football-related surgeries in 1987, of which 77 percent were knee operations.

And although there were no fatal or catastrophic football injuries among the players monitored by athletic trainers, the study notes that other researchers believe an average of 24 such accidents related to high-school football occur each year.

For the second year in a row, the study found, about 60 percent of all injuries occurred in practice sessions. And about 10 percent of the injuries reported were recurrences of previous injuries.

Running backs, the survey found, were at the highest risk for injury, with 7.9 injuries per 100 games. Quarterbacks and defensive linemen were the next-highest risk groups, with about 5 injuries per 100 games.--ef

Vol. 07, Issue 21

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