Children’s Sports Injury and Concussion Awareness

Athletics can teach kids great lessons about good sportsmanship, discipline, and teamwork. Physically and socially beneficial, participation in sports while you’re young can make memories that last a lifetime. It can also leave children with injuries, both temporary and permanent. Consider these statistics:

  • More than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year.
  • Nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals are suffered by children 5 to 14 years old.
  • Overuse/repetitive stress injuries are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle and high school students
  • Among athletes ages 5 to 14, 28 percent of football players, 25 percent of baseball players, 22 percent of soccer players, 15 percent of basketball players, and 12 percent of softball players were injured while playing their respective sport.
  • Each year, high school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations.
Among the 38 million U.S. youths who participate in organized sports, concussion is the most common injury and has risen 57 percent among those age 19 or younger. Just last week in Georgia, a high school goalie suffered his third soccer-related concussion and awoke from a coma speaking fluent Spanish – something he had never done before. Because children develop at different rates, there are often various sizes playing together. These differences in weight and height can raise the likelihood of injury. Kids don’t judge the risks of an activity the same way adults do and may be unaware that they are in over their heads. Young players may hide or downplay the fact that they are hurt because they don’t fully realize the seriousness of the injury, don’t want to let down their teammates, or don’t want to sit on the sidelines. The good news is that many injuries are preventable. To help reduce them, parents and coaches can make sure that children:
  • Receive a preparticipation physical exam (PPE) before starting a sport.
  • Take time to warm-up – before games AND practices. Stretching and low-intensity aerobic exercise, building to moderate intensity aerobic activity, can help prepare the body for strenuous game play.
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after playing. Ideally, athletes should drink fluids 30 minutes before activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during activity.
  • Take time off from their sport. Not only will that help prevent overuse injuries, it also offers the opportunity to develop skills in another sport.
  • Use the correct equipment such as helmets, shin guards, mouth guards, ankle braces, and shoes with rubber cleats.
  • Are reminded that athletes should never play through pain.

Even One Concussion Can Be Too Many

Athletes are often treated like royalty. They’re the heroes, role models, and inspirational figures whose faces are widely recognized. Emulated by children and adults alike, they also are often the recipients of generous paychecks and endorsement deals. It’s no wonder many college athletes aspire to go pro, following groundwork laid in high school to be the best they can be. The message is to play hard. Go big or go home. No pain, no gain.
However, a recent study of head trauma on young athletes concluded that even a single concussion can have lasting effects on intellectual, physical, and mental functioning.
More and more research is emerging on this topic, all with results that point to the notion that even single concussions are not to be taken lightly. In 2013, NPR reported that 10 to 20 percent of people who experience concussions for the first time develop chronic problems, such as complications with mood, depression, anxiety, headaches, trouble with balance, difficulty thinking, inattentiveness, or having a hard time concentrating. What’s even more alarming is that children may be more susceptible to concussions than adults, due to the continual growth of their frontal lobe. Younger brains are therefore more vulnerable to injury – and there are lots of young athletes getting injured. According to a recent nationwide tally of medical claims by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the number of diagnosed concussions among people under the age of 20 increased 71 percent between 2010 and 2015. If the rate for just girls is isolated, the number climbed to 119 percent during that time. In fact, the “bad effects from concussions can continue years after the trauma, and brain experts say that damage to delicate neurons can also accumulate over time, even with repeated head injuries that don’t reach the level of concussion.”

If you suspect your child may have a concussion, better to be safe than sorry. Seek immediate medical help. Your child’s doctor can determine the seriousness of the injury and advise when it’s safe for him or her to return to sports. It’s imperative that school-age children wear protective gear, such as helmets, during both games AND practices. If a student returns to sports or other activities before they’re fully healed, another head injury is likely to result in more permanent damage. Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems, dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Headache or a feeling of “pressure” in the head
  • Feeling sluggish, groggy, or dazed
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Sleeping problems
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in behavior.

Missing One Game vs. Missing A Whole Season

Here in Kentucky, we take our basketball very, very seriously. Our beloved Wildcats are the last undefeated team in men’s college basketball this year. And all those players got their start in high school hoops.
According to a study by the National Athletic Trainers Association, two players on every high school basketball team in the country, regardless of gender, are likely to be injured during a season. Common injuries include sprains, strains, eye injuries and concussions.

Concussions & Basketball?

Concussions are often associated with football but, while they are a prominent injury in that sport, they are not exclusive to it. Basketball players throughout the 11th Region have suffered concussions — while taking a head-over-heels spill in the opening minutes of a preseason scrimmage, while blocking a shot and being flipped in the air in the first game of the season, while going up for a shot and being undercut, while hustling after a loose ball and slamming into the scorer’s table.
That’s four known players in just this region, just this season.

Concussion Symptoms

A concussion can happen even if the person hasn’t lost consciousness. Symptoms generally appear soon after the bump, blow or jolt to the head, but the full effects of the injury may not be noticeable right away. Common symptoms include headache, blurry vision, sensitivity to light or noise, dizziness and confusion. Unfortunately, there are no definitive physical sideline tests for diagnosing a concussion. Short of a functional MRI, the only way to diagnose a concussion is through observation.

Responding to Concussions

It is imperative for coaches and parents to recognize that athletes may hide or downplay their symptoms because they are eager to play, don’t want to disappoint their teammates or think they can “tough it out.” Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be immediately removed from play and not allowed to return until a health care professional evaluates them and judges them to be symptom-free. Some athletic trainers rely on their knowledge of what is normal behavior for that player and also trust teammates to report when a player is not acting “right.” The process of returning to play should be gradual. One suggested standard of care recommends keeping a player with a concussion off the court for 5 days AFTER the player is without symptoms for at least 24 hours.

If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the personal injury attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. We have years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Our knowledgeable legal team will work closely with you every step of the way and will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. Contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.

Attorney Billy Johnson

William “Billy” Johnson grew up in the Dorton area of Pike County, Kentucky, and early on decided to stay in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Like many others in Eastern Kentucky, Billy’s dad worked as a coal miner, a hard job but one that taught his son how to meet challenges head on and persevere. Attorney Billy Johnson has years of experience helping injured clients with claims such as car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, wrongful deaths, work injuries, and more. [ Attorney Bio ]

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