Clearly, sports offer many benefits; however, there is a serious issue that can’t be overlooked: sports-related injuries.
You want your child to have fun, but it’s only natural to worry about his or her safety. After all, there is a risk of injury with all sports. Although any sports-related injury is cause for concern, perhaps one of the most serious injuries is a concussion.
According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 38 million children and adolescents participate in organized sports, and each year, more than 3.5 million children 14 years old and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries. In addition, Safe Kids USA reports that injuries associated with participation in sports and recreational activities account for 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States.
Although the thought of your son or daughter getting a concussion is frightening, you can take steps to reduce the risk of injury. By educating yourself about the sport your child plays and learning the signs and symptoms of a concussion, you can help ensure that he or she has a safe experience on the playing field.
Get Involved to Assure Safety
As a parent, you’re the best advocate for your child, so be proactive. There are several guidelines you can follow to protect your son or daughter from sports-related injuries, including concussions. Before you enroll your child in any athletic activity, make sure he or she has a complete physical examination to determine if he or she is healthy enough to play sports. Since all sports require protective equipment, such as helmets, shoulder pads, shin guards, goggles and mouth guards, familiarize yourself with the equipment and its proper use. And feel free to talk to the coach and ask questions about the sport.
“I also recommend that you watch your child at practice and games,” says Brian Boyd, athletic director at The Key School. “This gives you an opportunity to see the contact involved and gauge how your child reacts to it. If a child is tentative or afraid to get into the action, he or she is more likely to get hurt. So talk to your child about his or her comfort with the sport. Safety should always come first. Your child should enjoy the sport and have a great time playing it.”
If you’re worried about the amount of contact involved, you’re not alone. Some parents are concerned about girls’ lacrosse, and the safety of the sport has become an issue of debate. Unlike boys’ lacrosse, girls’ lacrosse doesn’t involve contact, and the players don’t wear helmets—only goggles. Some parents have suggested that helmets should be added to girls’ lacrosse to ensure the players’ safety.
“I understand parents’ concern, but it’s a difficult call to make,” says Boyd. “If you add helmets, the dynamic of the game will change, and it will become a contact sport. Changing the rules of the sport may actually put players at greater risk of injury. In my opinion, coaching is key. Coaches need to teach players the correct way to play the game and make sure they follow the rules. Then players won’t be as likely to get hurt.”
Click next to read about precautions to prevent concussions