Growth of lacrosse means more orthopedic injuries among young athletes

Many children enjoy organized sports every day as a way to stay in shape, train their bodies and blow off steam. Though some sports like football and hockey include a degree of physical contact, most are safe enough for kids to participate. However, every sport comes with some risk of injury, and lacrosse, the newest pastime to claim the mantle of "fastest-growing sport in the country," is seeing an increase in contact- and stress-related injuries. 

According to a report conducted by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health and the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, there were roughly 20 injuries per 10,000 lacrosse games or training sessions, which accounted for 1,406 total incidents from 2008 to 2012.

Muscle sprains and strains were the most common injury among high school lacrosse players, as 38 percent of all events were due to orthopedic issues. Concussions were the second leading cause of harm at 22 percent.

Even though girls's lacrosse leagues have rules in place that prohibit physical contact, gender had no effect on the prevalence of trauma-related injuries. Collisions caused 41 percent of all injuries among boys, while stray sticks, speeding balls and illegal physical interactions affected girls.

According to a survey from U.S. Lacrosse, nearly 750,000 people participated in an organized lacrosse league in 2013. This was a 3.4 percent increase on 2012's numbers, as the amount of youth players crossed the 400,000 mark for the first time.

"Lacrosse is becoming more and more popular across the United States, and it is a great way for high school students to be active," Lara McKenzie, Ph.D., principal investigator for the CIRP and contributing author of the study, said in a statement. "Still, we see injuries in the sport every day during the season. Our research shows that we need to do more and can do more to prevent those injuries."