Changes in Pediatric Sports Injury Presentation During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Multicenter Analysis

Mitchell A. Johnson, Kenny Halloran, Connor Carpenter, Nicolas Pascual-Leone, Andrew Parambath, Jigyasa Sharma, Ryan Seltzer, Henry B. Ellis, Kevin G. Shea, Theodore J. Ganley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: The current coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has prompted a multitude of public health response measures including social distancing, school cancellations, and cessation of organized sports. Purpose: To examine the impact of COVID-19 and corresponding public health measures on the characteristics of common pediatric musculoskeletal injuries associated with sports. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: This was a multicenter retrospective cohort study comparing patients with sports injuries presenting to 3 geographically diverse level I pediatric trauma hospitals and outpatient orthopaedic surgery clinics in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic and a prepandemic period at the same institutions. Patients were included if they presented for care between February 15 and July 15 in 2020 (pandemic cohort) or between March 15 and April 15 in 2018 and 2019 (prepandemic cohort). Results: Included were 1455 patients with an average age of 12.1 ± 4.5 years. When comparing patients presenting in 2018 and 2019 with those presenting in 2020, we observed a decrease in mean age during the pandemic (12.6 ± 4.0 vs 11.0 ± 5.2 years; P =.048). Additionally, a decrease in the proportion of injuries attributed to sports (48.8% vs 33.3%; P <.001) and those occurring at school (11.9% vs 4.0%; P =.001) was observed. The proportion of injuries attributable to clavicle fractures increased during the early stages of the pandemic (13.2% vs 34.7%; P <.001). There was no statistically significant delay to care in injuries presenting during the pandemic (41.5 ± 141.2 vs 19.23 ± 79.1 days; P =.175). Conclusion: Across 3 tertiary care institutions, patients were seen without significant delay during the pandemic. We observed a significant decline in pediatric musculoskeletal injuries associated with sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. This decrease has been accompanied by a shift in both injury type and mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • pandemic
  • pediatrics
  • sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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