Age-Related Injury Patterns in a Sports Medicine Outpatient Clinic

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SummaryOur goal is to document the patterns of injury by age, particularly in the 50–64 and 65 and over age groups based on a review of the characteristics of individuals seeking medical care at a sports medicine outpatient clinic for injuries attributable to sports participation. These injuries were recorded in a similar way from 1979 through 1995. A total of 51,953 injuries were reported, of which 42,458 were sports related. The median age was 33, and the age span 15–44 contained 72% of the injuries reported. Degenerative/impingement injuries accounted for increasingly large proportions of injuries with increased age across all sports, while the proportion of overuse injuries remained relatively constant up to age 65 and then appeared to decrease. Both fractures and sprains/dislocations also appear in decreasing proportions with advancing age. There was a general trend toward a higher proportion of hip injuries with increasing age and a decreasing percent of knee injuries. This may reflect a lessened likelihood of acute injury, primarily sprains. There were few constants in the patterns of injury across all sports as age increased. The accumulation of chronic and acute injuries over the years probably resulted in a greater proportion of impingement and degenerative problems and proportionally fewer acute problems. The activities of a specific sport seem to operate against the general background of age-related changes. Because of these activity differences, within a specific sport there may be pronounced (skiing) or relatively small (golf) differences by age. While age seems to act as a significant qualifier, the major influence upon injury patterns seems to be the nature of the sporting activity itself.

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