Youth-athletes from higher-income families are 68 percent more likely to suffer serious overuse injuries compared to lower-income athletes, according to a new study presented this month at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in New Orleans.
The study examined 1,190 youth-athletes between the ages of 7 and 18 who were seen at primary-care and sports-medicine clinics at Loyola University Health System and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. As a proxy for socioeconomic status, the researchers determined the insurance status for all but 69 of the youth-athletes enrolled in the study (1,121 in total).
If the athletes picked a main sport, quit all other sports to focus on one sport, and spent more than eight months per year training and competing in a single sport, they were defined as having a high degree of sports specialization.
Thirty percent of privately insured athletes but only 18 percent of publicly insured athletes were highly specialized in one sport. Likewise, 13 percent of privately insured athletes suffered serious overuse injuries, compared with only 8 percent of those who were publicly insured.
A version of this article appeared in the April 23, 2014 edition of Education Week as Sports Injuries