Research Sports and Recreation

Sports and Recreation

Sports and recreation injuries are prevalent across all age populations and are responsible for a high percentage of emergency room visits.

  • If your child is between 10 and 14 years old, receiving a concussion through a sport is higher than other age groups. Visit to learn more about identifying concussions when they happen and how to treat them.
  • During 2005 – 2006, sports and recreational injuries led to 127,365 emergency department visits and 2,982 hospitalizations, accounting for more than 9,425 days in hospitals across Ontario.
  • Males were responsible for close to 75% of emergency visits and 80% of hospitalizations. The gender disparity was particularly wide at ages 10 – 19.
  • Cause of injury also varied by age group, with most kids under nine and adults over 50 years of age, visiting emergency after a fall from a bicycle.
  • Youth 10 -14 years of age most often went to emergency after a fall involving skates, skis, sport boards or inline skates.
  • Teenagers 15 -19 years were most often hurt colliding with another person during a sport. Adults 20 – 49 were hurt most often after being struck with sports equipment such as a ball or hockey puck.

Managing the Risk of Specific Popular Sports

Sports linked to the highest number of injuries have been identified, as follows, along with strategies to reduce injury risks:

  • Hockey: Wearing properly fitted protective gear and ensuring coaches do as well, ensuring adequate physical conditioning, reinforcing following rules and ensuring coaches and officials are certified and qualified, are all techniques to reduce injury.
  • Baseball: Injuries stem from collisions, falls, sliding and overuse. Good physical conditioning, awareness of overuse injuries, wearing the gear and learning proper technique, ensuring playing fields are well maintained and modifying the rules for children, including using softer balls, are all ways to reduce injury risks.
  • Cycling: Properly fitted bicycle helmets protect against head injuries and in Ontario all children under 18 are required to wear helmets. Research suggests it may make sense to mandate helmet use for adults over 18 as well, which also ensures they are positive role models. Helmet giveaways increase their use.
  • Soccer: In addition to training, warm-ups, following rules and wearing appropriate gear as in other sports, soccer goal posts should be properly secured and ball size should be appropriate for the age group.
  • Skiing, Snowboarding, Ice Skating, In-line Skating: Ski bindings should be adjusted by a professional at the beginning of each season, helmets should be promoted, as should other protective gear, participants should be educated to remain on slopes suited to skill level and to build gradually to more advanced runs, skaters should understand the rules of the skating rink and to check that outdoor ice is thick enough to skate on safely.
  • Boating and Waterskiing: Risk of injury is reduced if participants wear personal floatation devices, avoid alcohol, check weather forecasts and get trained in boating and water safety. Water skiers should be trained and a “spotter” should be in the boat.
  • Football/rugby: As with other sports, protective gear, warm-ups, training, avoiding playing through injury and proper physical conditioning, can all reduce injury risks.
  • Tobogganing: Injury risks are lowered if a gently-sloping hill free of potential hazards is chosen, a helmet is worn, the toboggan is in good condition and can be steered and stopped, riders keep scarves or long hair tucked inside coats and sit or kneel facing forward.

Statistics and injury prevention guidelines were pulled from