Concussions in youth sports cause growing concern among parents and coaches
The warm sunshine and the smell of fresh cut grass is a sure sign of spring, and young athletes will be eager to get back in the game. But one crash or collision with a fellow player could spell disaster, both on and off the field.
Despite increased awareness about sports-related concussions, there’s been a sharp uptick in frequency over the last decade. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that emergency room visits for concussions in children 8 to 13 has doubled, and concussions have risen 200 percent among teens 14 to 19. Many athletes are returning to the field too soon and experiencing even further damage.
PLAYING BY THE RULES
The Centers for Disease Control has published an online guide about the topic for parents and coaches, available on its website (cdc.gov/headsup/youthsports). Having all the information on hand can help kids to better experience the thrill of competition — win, lose or draw.
A RISK IN ALL SPORTS
While football continues to have the greatest incidence of concussions, many activities have proven to be just as dangerous. Among both male and female athletes, contact sports like ice hockey, lacrosse and wrestling have all been associated with a higher risk of concussion. Even low-impact activities such as soccer, basketball and cheerleading are seeing an increase in head injuries.
Recognizing a concussion from the start is key to preventing more serious long-term issue. Symptoms include:
- Concentration or memory problems
- Upset stomach
- Blurry vision
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Sensitivity to light or sound
Are You Prepared to Handle Concussions?
- Verify that all coaches and trainers know how to evaluate participants for concussions.
- Educate youth participants on the symptoms of concussion and encourage them to speak up when they’re not feeling well.
- In the event of a concussion, make sure you enforce complete rest. Children should cease all sports and physical activities, and avoid texting, playing computer games or other screen-based media.
- Check sports equipment often to make sure it fits the athlete properly. Repair or replace any items that are in poor condition.