Athletes with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to play basketball or football rather than golf or tennis.
According to a new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, athletes living with ADHD are more likely to participant in team contact sports rather than individual sports and ultimately increase their risk of injury by doing so.
“We expected athletes with ADHD to gravitate toward individual sports, like golf or tennis, where they have more control, there is a little bit more repetitiveness and they don’t have to worry about the responsibilities or roles of teammates or opponents,” Dr. James Borchers, director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, said in a statement.
“But what we found was our athletes with ADHD were twice as likely to compete in team sports, and their rate of participation in contact sports, like football, hockey and lacrosse, was 142 percent higher,” he added.
The researchers analyzed and charted injuries of more than 850 athletes from Ohio State University who competed in a variety of sports over a five-year timespan.
“We know in young people with ADHD that they do have an increase in impulsivity and a little bit more reckless behavior,” Dr. Trevor Kitchin, primary care sports medicine fellow and researcher, said in a statement. “We’re not saying that ADHD led to injury, but given its known characteristics, it may be putting these athletes at higher risk, especially in contact sports.”
While there are more injuries in contact sports, the research didn’t show that ADHD was related to any particular type of injury. Previous research has shown a correlation between participating in sports and a reduction in the symptoms of ADHD in children.
“One of the most important things is having an open dialogue between the athlete, parents, coaches and athletic trainers so that they can work together to give the athlete the resources necessary to be successful in their sport,” Kitchin said.
According to the researchers, just over 5.5 percent of athletes were diagnosed and treated for ADHD, approximately the same percentage as the general student population. It is estimated that more than six million children in the U.S. suffer from ADHD.
“This study is a great first step in understanding our student athlete population, the type of sports they play and other clinical conditions so we can better help those student athletes with the sport they’re playing,” Borchers said.