Guest written by Dr. Howard J. Levy, MD, MBA Orthopedic Surgeon, Sports Medicine as commentary to The New York Times article titled “Cost of Contact in Sports Is Estimated at Over 600,000 Injuries a Year” released on September 29, 2017.
A recent article in The New York Times reported that contact sports are responsible for over 600,000 injuries per year at a cost of over $20 billion. The data was compiled by researchers at Yale who compared the potential decrease in injuries if contact sports could be made non-contact. The results take into account only the immediate consequences, and not the long term effects of injuries. The pros and cons of playing sports, especially contact, are personal choices. Despite the risks, team sports provide many benefits, including: building confidence, are a means of exercise, helps develop relationships, teaches respect, and encourages family involvement. The main goal is to make participation in sports as safe as possible. The use of proper equipment, conditioning and sport-specific techniques are paramount. Use of certified athletic trainers (ATs) has been shown to result in fewer injuries. ATs are usually the first responders to acute injuries, and implement treatment and rehabilitation and help determine return to paly status of the athlete. Many injuries occur when an athlete has an unreported injury and returns to the field without being evaluated by a medical professional. An AT can assess these potential injuries and triage the athlete immediately.
Orthopedic Surgeon, Sports Medicine