Play it Safe When it Comes To Youth Concussions

More than 38 million boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 18 participate in organized youth sports. And while sports can be a fun way to socialize and instill values such as teamwork, group physical activities also carry with them the potential for injuries.

In fact, WebMD reports that the number of children treated in emergency rooms for sports related injuries has doubled in the past decade.   Coaches, parents and athletes need to be on the lookout for injuries, especially serious types of injuries that are less visible such as concussions.

Recognizing such injuries and being proactive are key because approximately 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year. What may seem to be a mild bump or blow to the head can often be far more serious.  Adults are aware that football and hockey are the sports producing the most concussions but WebMD advises parents be aware that the non-team-related activities of bicycling, snow skiing and boarding, and the seemingly safe playground at church or school are also leading locations for concussions.

Contact between athletes, collisions between athletes and objects such as goalposts or hurdles, even just an awkward fall, all commonly cause concussions, the situation where the brain moves rapidly inside the skull.

Parents should watch their children’s organized play closely.  Should a concussion occur on the playing field, there are many signs and symptoms that coaches and parents need to know. For example, athletes who experience any kind of change in behavior, thinking or physical functioning may be in need of care. Be especially cautious with daughters.  Female athletes have a higher rate of concussions than boys who play similar sports. The reasons for this are not well understood says a study published in Pediatrics.

Recognizing this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stepped in to help with the development of the “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports” tool kit.

The kit provides a comprehensive list of signs and symptoms of a concussion as well as important steps to take when a concussion is suspected. The materials are available in both English and Spanish, include on online concussion training course for coaches

http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/Training/HeadsUpConcussion.html,plus:

* a fact sheet for coaches

* a fact sheet for athletes

* a fact sheet for parents

* clipboards with concussion facts for coaches

* magnets with concussion facts for coaches and parents

* posters with concussion facts for coaches and sports administrators

* a quiz for coaches, athletes and parents

To learn more about concussions or to order the “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports” tool kit free of charge, visit:  www.cdc.gov/ConcussionInYouthSports.

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