Football and Its Injuries and Maladies

Laurie Scudder DNP, NP; Laura Stokowski, RN, MS  |  September 11, 2015. Medscape Nurses.  

Updated January 30, 2017. Football is said to be the most popular sport in America. Polls show that professional football has held the top spot in the hearts of US sport fans for the past 30 years. In terms of youth sport participation, football comes in third place behind basketball and baseball. Participation in high school football declined by 2.3% in 2012-2013 compared with 2008-2009. With participation in all organized youth sports (age 6-17 years) on the decline, this might reflect a general trend toward inactivity, but football faces the extra hurdle of concern about concussions and other injuries that can cause permanent harm.

These concerns are well-founded. Recent data show that 61% of retired players in the National Football League (NFL) report having had a concussion. Among 5- to 24-year-olds, football is a leading cause of visits to emergency departments for nonfatal injuries, easily outnumbering motor vehicle-related injuries among teenage boys.

Watching from the safety of a sofa or stadium seat is one thing, where the greatest dangers to one’s health are posed by alcohol, high-calorie snack foods, and prolonged sitting. But playing the game brings risk of another order of magnitude. The constellation of football-associated injuries is wide, ranging from the well-known contact head injuries to heat stroke, stress injuries, catastrophic joint injuries, rhabdomyolysis, and even sudden death. In 2014, six fatalities were directly related to football played at any level. In time for Super Bowl LI, Medscape brings you this review of common and not-so-common injuries and events associated with this sometimes dangerous sport.

For full article, see Medscape Nurses.

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