-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SATURDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Most sports-related facial
fractures among children occur when they're trying to catch a
baseball or softball, according to new research. These injuries are
relatively common, and they can be serious.
The new study examined how and when facial fractures occur in
various sports. "These data may allow targeted or sport-specific
craniofacial fracture injury prevention strategies," wrote study
leader Dr. Lorelei Grunwaldt and colleagues at the Children's
Hospital of Pittsburgh.
The study, published in the June issue of the journal
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, involved 167 children
and teens treated in the emergency room for a sports-related
fracture between 2000 and 2005. About 11 percent of facial
fractures were sports-related, according to a journal news
Of the children treated for facial fractures, roughly 80 percent
were boys. Nearly two-thirds were between 12 and 15 years old.
Forty percent of injuries were broken noses, 34 percent were
fractures around the eye and 31 percent were skull fractures.
Forty-five percent of the children were admitted to the hospital
for their injuries. Of these, 15 percent were sent to the
intensive-care unit. Roughly 10 percent of the children lost
consciousness and 4 percent had more significant injuries
considered a level-one trauma (the worst trauma), including an
unstable airway or spinal cord injury.
Many of the children were injured by a ball while they were
attempting to catch it and 44 percent of the fractures involved
baseball and softball. Most often, players were inured while
attempting to field a line drive.
Meanwhile, only 10 percent of the cases occurred while playing
basketball and football. Fractures sustained during these two
sports, as well as most in soccer, occurred when players collided.
Collisions with another player accounted for 24.5 percent of
injuries, the study showed.
Falls also were to blame for about 19 percent of injuries. Other
patterns of fractures were seen in specific sports. For instance,
golf injuries most often happened at home when a club struck a
All facial fractures from skiing and snowboarding and most from
skateboarding occurred in children who were not wearing helmets.
Most horseback riding fractures were the result of being kicked by
a horse. Although horseback riding and skateboarding injuries
occurred less frequently, they were more serious. Of these, 29
percent of horseback riding injuries and 14 percent of
skateboarding injuries were classified as a level-one trauma.
The study authors said their findings could help prevent future
injuries in children. For instance, skateboarders, skiers and
snowboarders should always wear helmets to reduce their risk for
fracture. Nasal protectors can also prevent some fractures for
basketball and soccer players. Softer, low-impact balls also have
been recommended for youth baseball and softball. The researchers
added that more protective equipment may be beneficial for
outfielders playing baseball or softball.
"Our strongest recommendation for injury prevention may be further consideration of face protective equipment for players fielding in baseball and softball," the researchers wrote.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons has
treating and preventing facial injuries.
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