In 2013, 1.24 million kids required an emergency room visit for a sports related injury. We know that 13-15 year old’s accounted for the largest number of those injuries. 54% of student athletes have admitted they played their sport while injured and 42% have hidden or down-played an injury during a game so they could continue to play. We also know that 33% have been injured as a result of “dirty play.”
What are we to learn from this? Considering the types and, in some cases, the life-long implications many of these injuries have, we believe that the culture of youth sports really needs to change.
Having spent literally decades either on the field myself or on the sideline/court side watching my four son’s play various sports, or seeing student athletes requiring admission to the hospital or having surgery normally reserved for adult athletes, I concur with studies that have shown an increase in a variety of preventable injuries happening to our kids. I’ve also witnessed that we parents, are often part of the problem.
Remember, the first rule of thumb is that our kids are in sports for enjoyment and physical activity. But this doesn’t mean that all caution is to be thrown to the wind at any cost for a win or a trophy (fewer than 1 in 1 million will make pro ranks). So we advocate a strategy for “smart play.”
- Set the ground rules at the beginning of the season. Coaches bring together parents and athletes before the season begins to agree on the team’s approach to prevent injuries.
- Teach athletes ways to prevent injuries. Proper technique, strength training, warm-up exercises and stretching can go a long way to prevent injuries.
- Prevent overuse injuries. Encourage athletes to take time off from playing only one sport to prevent overuse injuries and give them an opportunity to get stronger and develop skills learned in another sport.
- Encourage athletes to speak up when they’re injured. Remove injured athletes from play and have them medically evaluated.
- Put an end to dirty play and rule breaking/rule bending. Call fouls that could cause injuries. Encourage a team culture of sportsmanship.
- Get certified. Learn first aid, CPR, AED use and injury prevention skills.
For information on sports safety visit www.safekids.org
By Carlos Flores RN FCN As always, remember, play hard/play safe.