Epidemiology of Pediatric Basketball Injuries Presenting to Emergency Departments: Sex- and Age-Based Patterns

Aaron J. Zynda, K. John Wagner, Jie Liu, Jane S. Chung, Shane M. Miller, Philip L. Wilson, Henry B. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is limited epidemiologic data on pediatric basketball injuries and the comparison of these injuries before and after adolescence and between male and female athletes. Purpose: To assess common sex- and age-based injury patterns in pediatric basketball players. Study Design: Descriptive epidemiology study. Methods: Injury data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) and participation data from the National Sporting Goods Association were used to complete this study. Data on pediatric basketball injuries between January 2012 and December 2018 in patients aged 7 to 11 years (childhood) and 12 to 17 years (adolescence) were extracted and used to calculate national injury incidence rates with 95% CIs. Sex and age group patterns were examined utilizing Pearson chi-square tests. Z tests were conducted for the comparison of injury rates between female and male athletes in each age group and overall injury rate across age groups. Results: An average of 9582 basketball injuries were reported annually in the NEISS, which calculated to an annual national estimate of 294,920 injuries. The most common diagnoses were ankle strain/sprain (17.7%), finger strain/sprain/fracture (12.1%), concussion/head injury (9.4%), knee strain/sprain (4.5%), and facial laceration (3.3%). There was a significant increase in injury prevalence in adolescents (12- to 17-year-old category: 238,678 injuries per year) when compared with childhood (7- to 11-year-old category: 56,242 injuries per year) (P <.0001). Concussions/head injuries occurred at a high rate in childhood, second only to finger strain/sprain/fracture, and at a similar rate in females and males (injuries per 100,000 athlete-days: 4.9 [95% CI, 3.1-6.7] vs. 5.9 [4.3-7.5], respectively; P =.41). From childhood to adolescence, injury prevalence increased for all areas and across both sexes, except for female finger strain/sprain/fracture; however, the rate of increase for concussion/head injuries and knee injuries was significantly higher in female compared with male athletes (P <.0001 for both). In adolescents, ankle injuries were the most common injury overall. Conclusion: Ankle injuries continue to be the most predominant pediatric basketball injury. However, disproportionate rates of both knee and concussion/head injuries in female athletes during adolescent basketball are of concern and have implications for injury prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 17 2022


  • adolescent
  • basketball
  • child
  • descriptive epidemiology
  • injury
  • recreation/sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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