What’s The Highest Risk Sport? Hint: It’s Not Football

If we asked the following question: “What is the sport with the highest risk of injury leading to surgery?” Most people would probably answer, “Men’s football” and surprisingly enough that would be wrong.

Gregory Montalbano, MD Orthopedic Surgeon and faculty member NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital describes the results of a recent study as not consistent with what we often might think. Interestingly enough, when the data is evaluated as ‘injury risk leading to surgery’ , women’s gymnastics actually has the highest risk.  Although men’s football is generally regarded as having the highest risks associated with the sport, this is not the case when the definition of ‘risk’ equates to injury requiring surgery.

Men’s football was #2 and then men’s wrestling, and men’s and women’s basketball were #3 and #4 with the highest risk in descending order of frequency according to an analysis of surgery rates among 25 national collegiate athletic association sports that was published in the December 21, 2020 edition of The Physician and Sportsmedicine). ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tears constituted by far the injuries with the highest surgery rates.

Surgery incidence rate (per 10,000 Athletic Exposures [AE]) were as follows: women’s gymnastics (8.9), men’s football (6.1), and men’s wrestling (5.3). Absolute numbers of injury-related surgeries performed were greatest for men’s football (n = 31,043), women’s basketball (6,625), and men’s basketball (5,717). Anterior cruciate ligament tears had the greatest surgery incidence rate per 100,000 AEs for all sports combined (7.95), and also represented the injuries with the lowest rate of return to sport.

For athletes and the parents of athletes engaged in these sports some advice to attempt to reduce the risk of injury is a focused sports specific conditioning program that focuses on strength and agility and also identifying and eliminating pathologic movements that are known to be associated with increased risk of injury.

If you or your child suffered an ACL tear, there are recent advances in ACL surgery that suggest regrowing the ACL through the use of bio-regenerative technology may be an effective option. Contact iOrtho today for a consultation.

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