New Survey Shows Youth, Parents & Coaches Need More Education About Preventable Injuries

This week marks National Safe Kids Week, an annual public education event started by Safe Kids Worldwide to help understand and prevent childhood injuries. A national survey sponsored by the organization and corporate giant Johnson & Johnson provides a revealing look at misperceptions in the world of youth sports.

The results of Coaching Our Kids to Fewer Injuries: A Report on Youth Sports Safety show parents and coaches are naïve to serious conditions like overuse injuries, dehydration and concussions.

Some results of the survey:

• 1 in 3 children who play team sports are injured seriously enough to miss practices or games, and some suffer lifelong consequences

• 90 percent of parents underestimate the length of break children should take from playing a sport during the year to protect them from overuse and burnout. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), children should take a couple of months, or one season, away from a specific sport each year. Young athletes should also take at least a day off each week from organized activity.

• More than half of all coaches believe there is an acceptable amount of head contact during play, without potentially causing a serious brain injury. The fact remains the degree of impacts are difficult to determine until properly evaluated by a medical professional.

• Almost 50 percent of all coaches indicated they have felt pressure from parents or the athletes, themselves, to keep an injured child in a game.

• 30 percent of children think talented players should keep playing even when they’re hurt, unless a coach or adult makes them stop.

• Three-quarters of coaches report they would like additional training on preventing concussions.

Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide says, “Culturally, there’s an attitude that injuries are a natural consequence of sports and that good athletes tough it out when they suffer an injury. But that attitude is hurting our kids.”

The survey was conducted online in February and March 2012, collecting data from 516 children aged 8 to 18 who played a variety of sports, as well as from 750 parents and 752 coaches.

Uncovering Clues About Concussions in High School Football Players

Steven Broglio, Ph.D., A.T.C., director of the University of Michigan’s Neurotrauma Research Laboratory and assistant professor at the U-M School of Kinesiology, has been conducting research on the number of hits sustained by a high school football player and is reporting staggering numbers.

Using helmet sensors, Broglio found that the average player sustains more than 650 impacts per football season, though some players experience more than 2,000 hits. A concussion will occur with a hit that measures about 90 to 100 g-force, which Broglio reports as a head smashing against a wall at 20mph.

Another interesting note about is his finding that concussions don’t seem to occur as a result of the “snowball” effect—that is, lots of smaller hits don’t equal a concussion. Rather, all it takes to sustain a concussion is a single, solid hit.

Michigan is one of the few states remaining which has not passed youth concussion protection legislation.

Take a look at the video from the University of Michigan News Service to see Broglio’s helmet sensor and how the hits were measured.

Chronic Repetitive Injuries Strike Lacrosse Players

With lacrosse’s surge in popularity over the past decade, chronic repetitive injuries are affecting players as the sport becomes a year-round game. Milford Marchant, M.D., Board-certified sports medicine specialist at MedStar Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, Md., writes in the Baltimore Sun that the medical community has not kept pace with the sport’s growth. As sports medicine physician for the Chesapeake Bayhawks Major League Lacrosse team, Dr. Marchant shares experience about treating repetitive injuries among high school and college lacrosse athletes.

Read Dr. Marchant’s full article in the April 12, 2012 edition of the Baltimore Sun.

Contact Sports: A Case of Child Abuse?

youth hockey

Courtesy jayaruu / morgueFile

The Canadian Medical Association has just weighed in on the subject of concussions sustained by young athletes playing contact sports and has some pretty shockingly strong words. Emile Therien, former president of the Canada Safety Council, calls hockey “child abuse” due to Hockey Canada’s failure to implement strict anti-concussion measures.

Of course, hockey is the unofficial national sport of our northern neighbor, and the CMA was taking aim specifically at it. But, any contact sport carries a serious threat, as pointed out in an editorial by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. He cites the CMA’s report about concussions among youths playing hockey and clearly feels for parents who must make a difficult choice: allow their children to be part of a team that will encourage good virtues or expose them to the dangers of injuries that could leave them with damaged brains later in life.

Keep Young Athletes Healthy

by Dan Mahoney, LAT, ATC, PES, Combine360 Certified Trainer

A growing epidemic of preventable youth sports injuries is decimating kids’ athletic hopes and dreams at an early age. Nearly half of all sports injuries that occur — more than 5 million annually — are due to overuse.

You might hear a story like this: An 11-year-old girl participates in soccer practices and games year round, plays on a travel club team, the local middle school team, and goes home at night and trains in her back yard. Then due to the stress on her still developing body, she suffers and injury to her knee that prevents her from playing the sport she loves. Her injury does not just affect her life now, but may keep her from learning the lifelong lessons that sports participation teaches. This is an all too common phenomenon that happens to youth athletes.

April is Youth Sports Safety Month, so the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the STOP Sports Injuries campaign would like to share some simple tips to keep kids on the field and out of the examination room:

  1. Get a pre-season physical.
  2. Properly warm up and cool down before and after activity.
  3. Perfect practice makes perfect play. Get instruction on proper training and technique.
  4. Develop skills that are age appropriate.
  5. Increase training gradually.
  6. Don’t specialize in one sport.
  7. Don’t play year round ­– rest at the end of each season.Don’t play through pain – seek help if you are hurt.

Most overuse injuries are preventable, but if left untreated may require medical intervention and lost time from the playing field. Please listen to your body, and do not ignore the warning signs of injury. To learn more, visit STOP Sports Injuries, National Athletic Trainers Association, or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Sports Injuries page.

What’s Your Concussion Story?

The subject of concussions is a hot topic these days. From casual chatter at the bus stop to symposiums led by the nation’s top neurologists, people are noticing that brain trauma among adolescent athletes is on the rise.

The reasons are many. First, concussions are being better understood and diagnosed by the medical community thanks to tools like baseline testing and SCAT2 (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2). Also, education is playing a big part in understanding that concussion symptoms are often subtle and may not be noticed for hours, or even days. Getting the word out to parents, coaches, athletic trainers, teachers, and athletes themselves, is helping to better identify concussions.

Last, sports are more accessible than ever to children and teens. Past generations often played a single sport during one season, but young people today have a wide choice, with many participating year-round in sports – many of them contact.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared concussions among adolescents an epidemic. In the field of epidemiology, this is defined as “the occurrence of more cases of disease than would normally be expected in a specific place or group of people over a given period of time.”

With millions of concussions happening in the United States every year, it seems everyone has a concussion story. Whether a personal experience or knowing a friend or acquaintance who’s been affected, it’s becoming increasing common to see the familiar nod when the subject comes up in conversation. The silver lining is that conversation leads to education, which ultimately will lead to a collective societal awareness of concussions.

Help us in our goal to educate and tell us your concussion story.