Sometimes we do learn from our past, as we have with traumatic sports injuries such as brain injuries among professional football players. A strict “concussion protocol” is now in place in the football world. We’ve also learned that injuries to our youth caused by playing sports can have long-lasting effects. Youth leagues have been quick to respond to the challenges of keeping kids safe while they play.
Organized sports are good for kids in many ways, not the least of which is increasing their physical activity in our current sedentary, electronics-centered world. But safety must be paramount. With that in mind, the 8th Annual Youth Sports Safety Summit (YSSS) met in March, 2018, to create new, more extensive guidelines and action plans to guide adults when a child is hurt while playing sports.
The summit was co-hosted by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, with the theme, “Less Risk, More Reward: Emphasizing Safety and Encouraging Success.”
Key Statistics in Youth Sports
Nearly 31 million children in the U.S. ages 6 to 14 took part in sports or related athletic activities at least once during 2015. At the most recent YSSS, it was determined that there was room for improvement after those who attended considered the following statistics:
- Visits to emergency departments by children ages 6 to 18 indicated that almost 2 in 5 (39 percent) of life-threatening injuries were related to sports.
- During 2013, approximately 1.35 million children ages 6 to 19 were taken to emergency departments for injuries suffered while engaging in 14 commonly-played sports.
- In 2016, 23 young athletes lost their lives in sports-related deaths. The fatality number was 50 in 2015.
- Unpublished data on 34 youth deaths collected from 2010-2014 by the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut found that 24 percent of the deaths took place while the children were participating in youth sports leagues. Cardiac problems were responsible for 47 percent of the deaths.
- The number of student athletes is increasing: Around 7.87 million students participated in athletics during the 2015-2016 school year. That number is more than 60,000 students higher than in the previous year.
The Korey Stringer Institute is a non-profit organization that focuses on preventing sudden deaths in sports, especially those caused by exertional heat stroke.
The New Recommended Guidelines
The new guidelines address emergency action plans for catastrophic medical emergencies such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Catastrophic neck and spinal injuries
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Exertional heat stroke
- Other medical situations which are potentially life-threatening.
Additional recommended guidelines were issued regarding the dangers of lightning and the need for access to medical services.The recommendations were designed to be applicable to any youth sports league.
NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC, commented, “This document is the first of its kind specific to youth sports. It will serve as a roadmap for policy and procedure recommendations at the youth sports level.”
Reducing the Risk of Injury
If you are concerned about preventing sports-related injuries in your own child, the American Academy of Pediatrics has the following suggestions:
- Provide your child with the right safety equipment. Make sure that helmets, face guards, mouthpieces, protective pads, protective cups, and eyewear are all appropriate to the sport and fit properly.
- Muscles should be strengthened, because strong muscles help prevent injury.
- Stretching and flexibility exercises, which also help prevent injury, should be included in your child’s fitness plan.
- Rest breaks should be part of every practice and game. You should be on the lookout for exertional heat stress during times of high humidity and temperatures and provide plenty of fluids.
- Proper technique while playing a sport also helps prevent injury.
- Your child’s body needs to recover long-term. They should take off at least one day per week and one month per year to rest.
- Never “play through pain.”
- Never pressure your child to win, and don’t allow others to do so. It can cause your child considerable emotional distress and push them to play when injured.
Youth sports are in high swing during the warmer months. Support their play, but help them do so safely.
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At the Louthian Law Firm, we’re advocates for South Carolinians who have been harmed in personal injury accidents due to negligence. If a young person you love has sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other life-threatening injury, you’ll need a team of professionals to help you deal with what could be long-lasting and life-altering changes. The Columbia TBI lawyers of the Louthian Law Firm can be valued members of your team, obtaining compensation from the negligent parties who caused the injury. South Carolina law can be complex, and personal injury claims have a filing deadline, so please do not delay. Reach out to us today by calling us or by filling out our online contact form. The initial consultation is always free.