Preventing Catastrophic Injuries in Youth Sports
Play Hard, but Play Safely
If you have kids, it’s likely that you spend time sitting on bleachers, watching them play and cheering them on. Sports are undeniably good for kids—for their bodies, their minds, and their overall social development. Athletics are one way to battle our modern society’s increasing tendency to spend time lounging in front of a screen.
However, growing children are especially vulnerable to injury, more so than adults. While we have started talking more about traumatic brain injuries in football, for example, much of the attention has been focused on professionals. Did you know that high school football players are twice as likely as college players to sustain a head injury? And that 1 in 10 college players end up suffering a brain injury?
On March7, 2018, the 8th Annual Youth Sports Safety Summit (YSSS) met right here in Indianapolis to discuss youth sports injuries and safety protocols. Co-hosting the summit were the Youth Sports Safety Alliance and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA).
Youth Sports Statistics
There’s lots of room for improvement when it comes to keeping our young athletes safe. A total of almost 31 million kids ages 6 to 14 played at least one sport one time in 2015. A number of our children get more than they bargained for when they play:
- In 2013, of the children ages 6 to 19 who play sports, around 1.35 million of them were taken to emergency departments.
- Nearly 40 percent of kids ages 6 to 18 who visited emergency departments had life-threatening injuries that were sports-related.
- During the period from 2010 through 2016, 242 children died in sports-related situations. That’s around 35 young athletes per year.
- About 1 in 3 kids who play team sports sustain injuries that are serious enough to miss a practice or game.
- Nearly two-thirds of sports-related injuries occur during practices, not games.
- The most common injuries for young athletes are sprains and strains, bone injuries, and exertional heat stress.
The New YSSS Guidelines
After considering statistics and other research, those attending the YSSS made extensive recommendations for our nation’s youth sports programs, such as Little League, USA Football, and other well-known organizations. Their proposals cover a number of emergency action plans for:
- Sudden cardiac events
- Exertional heat stroke
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Traumatic spine and neck injuries
- Any other potentially life-threatening medical situation
- Lighting when practicing or playing outdoors
- Access to appropriate and adequate medical services.
At the end of the summit, a call to action was issued, which included the following points:
- Children should have medical exams before play begins.
- All young athletes should have access to medical professionals who are qualified to assess and diagnose their injuries.
- Adults should know the cardiac stress warning signs.
- Families should be educated regarding injury symptoms for concussions, heat stroke, and ACL injuries.
- Sports equipment and playing areas should be checked for safety.
- More research into youth sports injuries, as well as more youth athlete safety laws, should be supported.
The end result of the summit was a document that was the first of its kind in addressing these youth sports issues. NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC, noted that the recommendations “will serve as a roadmap for policy and procedure recommendations at the youth sports level.”
April is National Youth Sports Safety Month. Do what you can to protect your sports-playing child. Johns Hopkins Medical has provided some injury prevention tips:
- Always get a physical before starting play.
- Encourage cross-training and variety of sports, which help reduce the chances of injury.
- Stress warmups, stretching, strength exercises, and adequate rest.
- Emphasize using the proper techniques for the sport kids play.
- Make sure your young athlete eats a healthy, balanced diet.
- Supply the proper safety equipment, and make sure it fits.
- Sufficient hydration is crucial, especially when temperature and humidity are high.
- Watch for injuries and get medical intervention early if you suspect a problem.
- Talk with your child. Don’t pressure them to win, and make sure they do not try to “play through the pain.”
Have fun out there, but protect your child from mishap.
We believe justice matters.
If someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to the situation which injured your child or another young person you love, you should not be the one to bear the associated costs. Likewise, when you are considering hiring an Indiana personal injury lawyer, you should look for an attorney who will give you competent and compassionate representation with a “client first” approach. That’s exactly what you’ll get with proven advocate attorneys Mike Stephenson and Brady Rife. Both are willing to go the distance on behalf of your family and your loved ones. At McNeely Stephenson, we offer free consultations and would like to discuss how we can be of service to you. Call us today, or use our online contact form to help us help you.