Craniosynostosis (CS) affects about 1 in 2500 infants and is predominantly treated by surgical intervention in infancy. Later in childhood, many of these children wish to participate in sports. However, the safety of participation is largely anecdotal and based on surgeon experience. The objective of this survey study was to describe sport participation and sport-related head injury in CS patients.
A 16-question survey related to child/parent demographics, CS surgery history, sport history, and sport-induced head injury history was made available to patients/parents in the United States through a series of synostosis organization listservs, as well as synostosis-focused Facebook groups, between October 2019 and June 2020. Sports were categorized based on the American Academy of Pediatrics groupings. Pearson’s chi-square test, Fisher’s exact test, and the independent-samples t-test were used in the analysis.
Overall, 187 CS patients were described as 63% male, 89% White, and 88% non-Hispanic, and 89% underwent surgery at 1 year or younger. The majority (74%) had participated in sports starting at an average age of 5 years (SD 2.2). Of those participating in sports, contact/collision sport participation was most common (77%), and 71% participated in multiple sports. Those that played sports were less frequently Hispanic (2.2% vs 22.9%, p < 0.001) and more frequently had undergone a second surgery (44% vs 25%, p = 0.021). Only 9 of 139 (6.5%) sport-participating CS patients suffered head injuries; 6 (67%) were concussions and the remaining 3 were nondescript but did not mention any surgical needs.
In this nationwide survey of postsurgical CS patients and parents, sport participation was exceedingly common, with contact sports being the most common sport category. Few head injuries (mostly concussions) were reported as related to sport participation. Although this is a selective sample of CS patients, the initial data suggest that sport participation, even in contact sports, and typically beginning a few years after CS correction, is safe and commonplace.