Prevention is Key in Reducing Sports-related Head Injuries
Organized sports are a great way for kids to stay active, while learning important skills like teamwork, leadership and discipline. It is estimated that more than 38 million children and adolescents in America participate in some sport. While sporting activities can improve both the physical and mental health of kids, injuries can occur. That's why it's so important to keep kids' safety at the top of our mind.
According to Safe Kids, a non-profit organization that works to keep kids safe from injury, more than 3.5 million children and adolescents under the age of 15 receive medical treatment each year due to sports injuries. Injuries range from muscle strains and fractures to more significant injuries such as head injuries that include mild traumatic brain Injury (TBI) and concussions. The latter results from a direct hit to the head or neck that causes the brain to move back and forth in the skull.
Safety precautions are instrumental in preventing or lessening head injuries from organized sports, casual sports like neighborhood play, and individual activities like biking, skateboarding and roller sports.
You can help reduce the risk of your child suffering a head injury by following these easy safety tips.
- Always require your kids to wear helmets or appropriate head gear when:
- Riding a bike, skateboard or scooter
- Using in-line skates
- Batting and running the bases in baseball or softball
- Soft shell protective headgear for flag football
- Participating in winter sports like skiing or snowboarding and even sledding
- Riding a horse
- Make sure your play areas are safe by removing any potential hazards.
- When participating in team sports, ensure that your children know the rules of the game and play with children of similar age, size and development level.
- Always have your children wear the right safety gear and equipment when playing a contact sport.
- Proper fitting equipment is just as important. A batting helmet that is too loose or football helmet not contacting the skull properly could lead to injury.
It is not just the coach's responsibility to spot a potential head injury, it is also every parent, referee and teammate's as well!
It is important to know that the method or severity of an injury does not correlate to the presence nor severity of a TBI or concussion.
If your child does sustain a head injury during play, watch for symptoms that include headaches, vision changes, nausea and/or vomiting, fatigue, balance problems, sensitivity to light or noise, numbness, changes in thinking, emotionality and disturbances in sleep. Have a low threshold if there are any concerns to have them evaluated by a medical professional immediately.
By following these simple guidelines, you can reduce head injuries and help your children to stay safe.