Earlier this month, CNN reported on a study released by the journal Pediatrics, finding that the annual injury rate for young soccer players jumped by 111% from 1990 to 2014, with older children between 12 and 17 years of age being more than three times as susceptible to injury.
With this said, the increase in youth soccer-related injuries coincides with a significant rise in participation for the sport. Groups like US Youth Soccer have seen close to a 100% increase in participation during the study years and many other youth sports are also on the rise.
As you may imagine, concussion-related injuries spiked almost 1,600% from 1990 to 2014. Suspected reasons for this include increased participation, more awareness surrounding concussions, and better recognition of concussions by doctors and coaches due to passing of youth sports concussion laws.
While no one wants to see injuries on the rise, the fact that participation in youth sports is increasing is a good sign – better for kids to be up and active versus the alternative.
Parents can protect their young athletes by ensuring the Clubs in which they participate have good policies surrounding concussion awareness training, good facilities management and emergency action plans. It’s also important to afford children the opportunity to try a variety of different activities during the off season to let their muscles rest and recoup.
Lastly, parents can also protect their wallets by insuring participation fees through groups like NextWave Insurance in the event of injury. Last month we posted about how these insurance policies work, and how to sign your organization up to offer these services to your members through Demosphere.
Youth sports in America are different than they used to be 15 years ago…or even just 5 years ago. There are more than 38 million youth playing organized sports each year, plus the number that participate in recreational games.
Children are starting younger, specializing sooner, and playing more competitively.
With some young athletes now beginning their athletic careers as young as age four, the line between “athlete” and “youth athlete” becomes fuzzy.
Still experiencing bone growth, the areas at the end of long bones where cartilage is developing is still weak compared to other ligaments and tendons. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a small injury (like a twisted ankle that might result in a sprain in an adult athlete) could potentially result in a much more serious bone injury in developing children.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital reported sports injuries as the second leading cause of emergency room visits for children and adolescents. Roughly three million children are sent to the ER for sports-related injuries, while another five million are treated by a primary care physician or a sports medicine clinic.
In 2013, USA Today released statistics for the most common diagnoses seen in ERs for youth sports related injuries. Ranking first place for the most common injury was Strain/Sprain. Fractures, Contusions, and Concussions were all on the list.
As for where on the body they occur, Ankles were the most common location – followed closely by Head and Fingers.
Depending on the sport, the type of injuries may also differ. For example, basketball’s most common injuries include sprains, strains, fractures, scrapes/cuts, and dislocations. Football’s most common injuries range from sprains, to strains, pulled muscles, soft tissue tears, broken bones, internal injuries, concussions, and back injuries.
The first, and most important factor in properly treating a youth sports injury is to have it evaluated by a medical professional. Any injury involving swelling and/or loss of movement or strength should be taken to a physician immediately.
If you believe an injury to be minor, evaluate the area after a few days. If it has not healed itself, it’s time to go to the doctor. Small injuries that fail to heal properly can result in a chronic issue.
Rest – Avoid using the injured area until it can be properly evaluated by a medical professional.
Ice – Use ice to help minimize the pain and swelling to the area. Apply ice to the area in 15-20 minute increments. Icing should be performed during the first 48-72 hours after the injury has occurred.
Compression – Apply elastic wrap below the injured area, wrapping upward, to help reduce swelling. If using elastic wrap/compression socks, always leave toes/fingers exposed and keep an eye out for numbness or discoloration.
Elevation – Prop the injured area higher than the heart.
There are several strategies available to help prevent sports injuries in youth players before they happen.
Wear the appropriate protective gear and make sure all pieces fit the athlete properly.
Always warm-up before starting to play.
Keep hydrated especially in intense heat.
Do not put repetitive stress on immature muscle-bone areas as these may result in overuse injuries.
Participate in multiple sports, not just one sport, year-round.
Limit the number of teams a young athletes joins over one season.
Have a physician screen young athletes for a preseason physical examination.
Do you have a strategy that helps keep the young athletes in your life safe? Add it to the comments section below!
As the concern about sports-related concussions continues to rise, new helmets, mouth guards and other protective equipment flood the market claiming to reduce the risk of brain injury.
Unfortunately, most lack the research to support their claims – yet continue to advertise as such.
Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. joined U.S. Senators Tom Udall, Amy Klobuchar, Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Representative Tom Rooney to propose a piece of legislation protecting young athletes from sports-related concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
The group sponsors the Youth Sports Concussion Act to establish safety standards that protective sports equipment must meet. The bill also includes measures to curb false advertising claims made by those manufacturers to increase sales.
Back in 2012 the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to nearly twenty equipment manufacturers that their concussion prevention claims might be deceptive, but the warnings were not enough to deter manufacturers.
The Youth Sports Concussions Act would empower the Federal Trade Commission, along with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to level civil penalties against companies that falsely advertise their safety effectiveness.
A similar version of this legislation was approved by a Senate committee in 2014, but the bill never received a vote in the full chamber.
Senator Udall believes that the increased awareness about concussions, paired with the new findings about the degenerative brain disease CTE in football players, could help this bill gain more serious consideration in Congress this time around.
“Our youngest athletes – our future sports heroes – deserve truthful and accurate information to make informed decisions so that the sports they play today can be sports they play for a lifetime.” – Senator Blumenthal
The Internet has become an essential tool for youth sports leagues to track scores and statistics, create rosters, and post game schedules – but before logging your child’s personal information online, think carefully about how that information is being protected or posted.
From home addresses to photos, birthdates, phone numbers, and more – youth sports leagues inherently collect large amounts of personal information about their players.
As the realization that most free youth sports solutions are funded through the use and sharing of personal information comes to light, concerns about protecting the online data of youth players has been brought to the forefront of concerns for many league officials, coaches, and parents.
Advocates for data safety are increasingly worried about child identity theft and other safety concerns.
The identifications of children aren’t already under surveillance by credit monitoring agencies because they lack an existing credit file, making them even more vulnerable to identity theft that can go undiscovered for years.
Steps can be taken to minimize the risk, like sharing your child’s birth year rather than the full birth certificate. If you must provide a copy of the birth certificate, it is not safe to send any sensitive documents via e-mail. Ask the league what safeguards they have set up to protect the information on the birth certificate – where it will be stored, how long it will be kept until disposed of, etc.
Noting which information is publicly shared on the club’s website and team roster, and which combination can contribute to identity theft (i.e. full name and birthdate) can also mitigate his risk.
When a league shares details online about a team’s game schedule, it can also be over-sharing information about each player’s location.
Not only do leagues collect home addresses from each player, they may also post when and where games are played publicly, creating the opportunity for anyone to learn the whereabouts of a child.
Eliminating jersey numbers from the online posting can reduce concern.
Over 180 state bills concerning student data protection were introduced in 2015 with several federal proposals also in discussion.
In the meantime, parents and leagues need to be aware of how their service provider is handling your child’s information by reading into the vendor’s privacy policies.
This past weekend, St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers fans sat in anticipation as one of the most unique game delays took place on the football field – pyrotechnics gone wrong.
Due to malfunctioning flame machines in one of the endzones, the turf field briefly caught on fire. The field was quickly extinguished and cleaned to resume the game in a timely fashion.
In the wake of this unexpected accident, have you considered how your own organization would have handled a fire on the field?
Whether gathered in a professional stadium or watching from your school’s gymnasium, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to having a prepared plan for all possible events.
Create An Evacuation Plan
Begin to create your Evacuation Plan by identifying a safe location away from your current practice/game area. In the event of an emergency, your staff and players should know where to gather a safe distance away.
For example, in the event of lightning on the field during a practice, give your team a designated shelter indoors to meet to discuss next steps.
If an evacuation emergency occurs during a spectator event, organization officials should be designated ahead of time with the responsibility of alerting spectators of the safe relocation area.
Chain Of Command
Appoint a specific staff member (or team of staff members) responsible for alerting the appropriate safety authorities and school administrators of the incident immediately.
Multiple officials should have the appropriate telephone numbers on hand to ensure immediate response.
Know Your Surroundings
If you practice and play in one location, prepare ahead of time by locating all emergency items around the premises. Check the expiration date on fire extinguishers so all equipment will work properly during the time of use.
Do you have more safety tips? Share how your organization prepares themselves for emergencies in the comments section below.