Young people's participation in sports can provide mental and physical health benefits, teach teamwork, sportsmen help to reduce the chances of a young person becoming involved with drugs, and it can reduce the risk of obesity.
Unfortunately, while there are many positive health and social benefits to participation in sporting activities, playing sports can be dangerous. As young people return to school and resume playing sports, it is very important for schools, athletic departments, coaches, parents and young athletes all to consider how to keep safety in the forefront this academic year.
According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, there are more than seven million high school athletes and more than 40 million young people between the ages of six and 18 who participate in some kind of organized sports activity. Unfortunately, each year there are around 8,000 visits to emergency rooms due to kids getting hurt in sports accidents. Further, an estimated 715,000 high school athletes get hurt each year.
Sports accidents can cause injury to any part of the body. The National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study reports that head injuries and injuries affecting the face were most common during the 2012 to 2013 school year, with a total of 350,356 injuries. More than 200,000 injuries also occurred to each the ankle and the knee while in excess of 100,000 high school students hurt their hands or wrists; and their upper thighs and hips.
Many of these injuries can permanently affect a young person’s mobility or cognitive function. Prevention of injuries and accidents is essential and the National Athletic Trainers Association has provided some important back-to-school safety tips including the following:
All children and teens that participate in sports during the school year should have a comprehensive medical exam before beginning play. The exam should incorporate an orthopedic assessment.
All equipment as well as the playing surface should be carefully inspected at the start of the school year and the start of the season.
Equipment, locker rooms and the playing surface must be inspected regularly throughout the season and kept clean and well maintained to reduce the risk of injury.
Schools should have a defibrillator available, as many young athletes have suffered heart attacks or cardiac problems that resulted in death or serious damage.
A written emergency action plan should be developed and there should be a plan in place for who will provide on-field care if a student athlete suffers an injury.
Parents, athletes and athletic department staff should be educated on the signs of concussion and students should receive prompt medical attention if they have potentially suffered a head injury.
By following these tips, hopefully young people will be able to reap the benefits of playing sports this year while the number of injuries can be kept to a minimum.
As with many injuries, when an injury occurs to a young athlete as a result of the school or staff members on the athletic department, a personal injury lawyer should be consulted for assistance. Having a legal opinion and insight can help determine next steps, expedite any legal proceedings and recovery from injury.
At Lebell, Dobroski, Morgan & Meylink, we have been helping accident victims, from whether injured in a vehicle, at work or on a schoolyard, for more than 40 years. For a free consultation and case review, please contact our offices!