While baseball is a fairly safe sport, participants can still get hurt and sometimes seriously. Over a 13-year period more than one and a half million players under 18 were injured seriously enough to be treated in emergency rooms. Estimates of the number of children involved in baseball vary, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission says there are 6 million in leagues and another 13 million playing on their own. Researchers analyzed a nationally representative sample of emergency room visits for baseball injuries from 1994 to 2006, using data gathered by the CPSC. Their study appears in the June electronic edition of Pediatrics.
Most of the injuries were minor, and more than 98% of patients were treated in the emergency room and released. But 24,350 required hospitalization, mostly with fractures and concussions. The number of injuries declined to 110,602 in 2006 from 147,357 in 1994; one possible reason, the authors say, is improvements in equipment. The most common injuries were caused by being hit by a ball, but softer safety baseballs now offer increased protection. Breakaway bases have lowered the number of strains, sprains and broken bones. In a separate study, the product safety commission found no facial injuries to batters wearing helmets with face guards. Dr. Gary A. Smith, the senior author and an associate professor of pediatrics at Ohio State, said mouth guards were particularly important. Dr. Smith had this observation:
They’re low tech, low cost and easily available. They’re used in many sports, and yet they’re not part of the culture of baseball. But they should be used routinely.
I am by no means discouraging the playing of organized baseball by youngsters. But I am encouraging the use of good protective equipment and competent adult supervision of youngsters in organized baseball leagues.
Source: New York Times
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