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Keywords:

  • athletic injury;
  • child;
  • gender;
  • physical activity;
  • risk;
  • sports

Aim:  The purpose of this study was to evaluate the 1-year incidence, location, type, mechanism and severity of sports injuries for adolescents in Germany.

Methods:  Data were from the ‘German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents’, a nationwide study of n = 17 641 children and adolescents. Analyses were based on a weighted total sample size of nw = 7451 adolescents between 11 and 17 years of age, 51% of them boys.

Results:  A total of 577 adolescents (8%) reported having experienced a sports injury during the past year. Collisions and falls were reported as being the most important causes. The most frequent diagnoses were contusions, dislocations, strains and sprains (60%), followed by fractures (26%). Most injuries (88%) were treated on an outpatient basis with only 12% resulting in hospitalisation. Gender-specific analyses showed that 9% of the boys and 7% of the girls suffered from a sports injury during the past year. After adjusting for the level of physical activity, these gender differences disappeared (ORgirls 0.94; 95% confidence intervals: 0.74–1.18). Excluding injuries incurred from falls while horse riding, there were no gender differences in the mechanism of injury. Among boys, 30% of all injuries were fractures, among girls 20% (P < 0.05). Apart from fractures, no further differences between the sexes in the range of diagnoses were identified.

Conclusions:  Although these results suggest that the risk of sports injuries does not differ significantly based on adolescents' gender, the incidence rate of adolescent sports injuries within Germany is relatively high.