Parents and coaches are becoming more aware of how serious concussions and brain injury can be for young athletes who play tough contact sports such as hockey and football.
Recent Congressional hearings on the long term effects of head trauma among professional football players have prompted new policies on when to sideline a player- no matter what age or level- and when to delay return to the game.
According to a new study noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics to be published in the October edition of Pediatrics, the number of basketball-related traumatic brain injuries jumped 70 percent between 1997 and 2007.
Basketball topped the list as the sport where players were most likely to suffer injury in 2001, according to data compiled by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System’s list — beating out sports like football, hockey, gymnastics and soccer.
High school athletes ages 15 to 19 years were more likely to sustain injuries to the lower extremities; kids of elementary school age were more likely to sustain injuries to the upper extremities, traumatic brain injuries, fractures or dislocations.
Study authors say that the continued high number of basketball-related injuries and the rise in traumatic brain injuries remain a cause for concern, and more research is needed to fully understand why injuries have gone up.
What can parents do to help prevent injury?
- Warm up. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, more than half of all injuries occur during practice. Yet often, coaches and parents do not take the same safety precautions to get ready for a practice as they do for a game. Make sure your child is adequately warmed up before play.
- Beware of overuse injury. That occurs over time from repeated motion and is responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle-and high-school students. Immature bones, insufficient rest after an injury and poor training or conditioning contribute to overuse injuries among children.
- Young athletes especially may face considerable emotional pressure to get back in the game, and kids aren’t always completely honest in revealing their symptoms. When is it okay to get back in the game? Parents of a child of any age who has suffered head trauma should be sure to ask their child’s doctor when normal activity can safely be resumed. If in doubt- keep your athlete out!