Youth soccer-related injuries treated in emergency departments more than doubled from 106 per 10,000 players in 1990 to 220 per 10,000 players in 2013, according to a study published on Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics.
“Kids are playing more frequently than they used to. They are playing year-round and in more leagues than they have done before,” Tracy Meehan, a researcher at Ohio's Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which conducted the study, told CBS News.
The retrospective analysis was conducted among children 7 through 17 years of age. Patients 12 to 17 years old accounted for 72.7% of injuries.
34.6% -- sprain or strain.
23.2% -- fracture.
21.9% -- soft-tissue injury.
7.3% -- concussion/closed head injury.
Head injuries contributed significantly to the spike in emergency room visits.
The annual rate of concussions/closed head injuries per 10,000 participants increased by 1595.6%, from 1990 to 2014. The increase, however, could be attributed to the growing awareness of the dangers of head injuries, prompting more trips to the emergency room.
"The incidence of concussion/CHI [closed head injury] among youth soccer players may, in fact, be increasing," write the study's authors Nicholas A. Smith, Thiphalak Chounthirath, Huiyun Xiang. "In addition, there has been a growing awareness among players, coaches, athletic trainers, medical professionals, and the public in general about the potentially serious consequences of sports-related concussion.
"Many states have passed youth sports concussion laws since 2009. This awareness may have led to better recognition of concussions and referrals to EDs [emergency departments] by soccer coaches and athletic trainers. Parents may have lower thresholds for taking their child to the ED for evaluation of a suspected concussion. ED medical personnel also may be diagnosing and documenting suspected concussion more often in recent years. The sharp increase after 2008 in concussions/CHIs in this study also has been observed in other youth sports, especially youth football."
During the years covered in the study, youth soccer and high school soccer participation doubled.
"We are so much more aware today than we were 20 years ago about taking care of injuries correctly," Scott Sailor, president of the National Athletic Trainers' Association, told CNN. "We've been able to see more athletic trainers and health professionals get around student athletes today. ... We have more people keeping an eye out for injury and making sure they get proper care.
"We certainly don't like seeing more kids getting hurt, but if one of the reasons more kids are getting hurt is because they are out there, playing and exercising, then that's a good thing."
But Sailor added: "I'm not a big fan of the multiple season thing. I really do think rest and recovery are good for decreasing injury rates. Kids going from season to season can really create some problems, both physically and psychologically, as far as things like burnout."
More than 98% of the children who visited emergency rooms for soccer-related injuries were treated and released.
The study also reported that the increase in the number of soccer injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms is a trend that also was observed for other youth sports from 2001 to 2013.