Background Recent interest in the study of concussion and other neurological injuries has heightened awareness of the medical implications of American tackle football injuries amongst the public. Objective Using the National Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) and the National Inpatient Sample (NIS), the largest publicly available all-payer emergency department and inpatient healthcare databases in the United States, we sought to describe the impact of tackle football injuries on the American healthcare system by delineating injuries, specifically neurological in nature, suffered as a consequence of tackle football between 2010 and 2013. Methods The NEDS and NIS databases were queried to collect data on all patients presented to the emergency department (ED) and/or were admitted to hospitals with an ICD code for injuries related to American tackle football between the years 2010 and 2013. Subsequently those with football-related neurological injuries were abstracted using ICD codes for concussion, skull/face injury, intracranial injury, spine injury, and spinal cord injury (SCI). Patient demographics, length of hospital stay (LOS), cost and charge data, neurosurgical interventions, hospital type, and disposition were collected and analyzed. Results A total of 819,000 patients presented to EDs for evaluation of injuries secondary to American tackle football between 2010 and 2013, with 1.13% having injuries requiring inpatient admission (average length of stay 2.4 days). 80.4% of the ED visits were from the pediatric population. Of note, a statistically significant increase in the number of pediatric concussions over time was demonstrated (OR = 1.1, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.2). Patients were more likely to be admitted to trauma centers, teaching hospitals, the south or west regions, or with private insurance. There were 471 spinal cord injuries and 1,908 total spine injuries. Ten patients died during the study time period. The combined ED and inpatient charges were 1.35 billion. Conclusion Injuries related to tackle football are a frequent cause of emergency room visits, specifically in the pediatric population, but severe acute trauma requiring inpatient admission or operative interventions are rare. Continued investigation in the long-term health impact of football related concussion and other repetitive lower impact trauma is warranted.
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