Concentrating on organized sports, especially a single sport, may lead to pediatric injuries.
According to a study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2013 National Conference and Exhibition, athletes between the ages of 8 years and 18 years who spend twice as many hours per week playing organized sports as they do engaging in free play have a higher likelihood of injury and have serious overuse injuries.
Researchers studied more than 1,200 child and adolescent athletes who were treated for a sports-related injury or who received a sports physical at a Chicago hospital or affiliated clinic. They collected baseline data on factors such as intensity and length of training, as well as degree of sports specialization (as measured using a 6-point score), and continued to collect these data from each participant at 6-month intervals between 2010 and 2012.
Of the 837 injured patients (with 859 unique injuries), injured athletes tended to be older and reported a higher average number of hours per week engaged in organized sports than uninjured athletes. Injured patients also averaged more hours per week in total sports activity—including gym, free play, and organized sports activities—than uninjured athletes. Injured athletes had much higher sports specialization scores than non-injured athletes, even after researchers adjusted for age and hours per week in total sports activity.