Playing sports is a great way to improve a child’s health and enhance their athletic skill. While competition can be exciting and enjoyable, it can also be rather dangerous. Each year thousands of young players are injured while playing the sports they love. Bruises, broken bones, torn ligaments, and cuts can put a player on the sidelines. But, the most serious of injuries are those sustained by the head.
The CDC has noted a sharp increase in the number of high school students reporting concussions and head injuries. In the past ten years, the rate has doubled, especially among children aged 8 to 13. In the same time frame, the rate of head injuries sustained by children aged 14 to 19 has increased nearly 200%. In 2012, both age groups accounted for 3.8 million concussions and head injuries.
Contact sports are considered the most dangerous, with football players accounting for nearly 47% of all head related injuries. Following football are ice hockey and soccer. One-third of these injuries occurred during training/practice. The remaining two-thirds took place on the field during competitive events.
Most troubling is that players are sustaining multiple concussions throughout the course of their athletic careers. One-third of players report suffering two or more concussions during the course of a single academic year. The cumulative damage this can cause is significant. Long-term damage can include memory loss, loss of motor skills, and loss of limb function.
The CDC is concerned because over 5.3 million Americans are living their lives with the consequences of concussions and long-term brain injuries. To counter the growing trend, technologies such as Brainshield are being deployed. High schools are also amending their sports policies to afford players greater safety protections. Legislation is also being passed, including the Youth Sports Concussion Act.
The Youth Sports Concussion Act increases oversight of high school athletics. This law requires each school to establish a return-to-play protocol that will protect students from the cumulative damage head injuries can cause. Moreover, it creates strict parameters for the oversight team regarding medical evaluation, documentation, and parental involvement in the process. The legislation has received widespread support from students, parents, and personal injury lawyers who are acutely aware of the dangers concussions pose for young players. The legislation won’t prevent head injuries. However, it will make it possible for students to receive expedited treatment and improved long-term evaluation and management of their injuries.