Are they dangerous?
Most people have participated at some sport during their childhood. Yes, occasionally injuries would occur. However, the amount that childhood sports injuries are being discussed by various media sources seems to be increasing. Are sports more dangerous now than they used to be? How serious are the majority of injuries that happen? What can be done to protect your child from a serious injury? Should you allow your child to play sports?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) keeps tract of the number of children involved in sports and the injuries that occur for a particular sport for each year. According to their data, approximately 30 million children and teens are involved in an organized sport each year and greater than 3.5 million injuries occur leading to some form of loss of participation. The CDC calculates that almost a third of all injuries that take place during childhood are sports-related. The good news is that the most common injuries are sprains, strains or stress fractures from overuse. While these can be painful and put a child on the sideline for a period of time, they are not usually life threatening. While death from a sports injury is uncommon, if death does occur, it is typically the result of a brain injury. Over 20% of traumatic brain injuries in children is the result of sports-related activities. As one would expect, the highest rate of injuries in sports occurs in those that involve contact and/or collisions. Other common causes of injury are falls and overexertion. Most (62%) sports injuries occur during practice.
When looking at all this information, it might seem that it is a good idea to never let your child play sports again due to the possibility of injury. However, this might be taking it a bit too far. When tragic injuries unfortunately occur, they make the news. This is due to the news is now a 24/7 business and they need stories in order to fill the space. While it is important to highlight the dangers of playing sports, this abundance of reporting has lead to the feeling that there has been an increase in sports-related injuries, particularly serious ones. It is important to remember that this is not the case.
When considering the advances that have been made in technology related to protective equipment and understanding the importance of protecting your body, an increase in childhood sports-related injuries seems unlikely. The main thing to remember is that there are rules and regulations for a reason…to protect your child. If your child can’t play for a certain period of time due to league rules preventing them from doing so, it is because has been proven through experience that by not allowing young players the ability to rest their bodies, especially since they are still developing, they are more likely to suffer long term complications. It is the same with advances made in safety equipment. The new technology has been shown to do a better job at protecting children from injury while participating in sports; therefore, it is important to wear properly fitting safety equipment at all times. In order to prevent overuse injuries, there are some key steps that should be followed, such as strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and use proper technique. Taking frequent breaks and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated are also essential measures in preventing an injury. By always following the rules related to safety equipment/amount of time playing and telling your child not to play through any pain that they might be having is a good way to prevent injury. If it is warm weather, try to wear light-colored clothing and drink electrolyte replacement drinks in addition to water. It is also recommended that you take time off from training for a particular sport at least one day a week and one month a year in order to give your body time to rest and recover. This doesn’t necessarily mean don’t do anything, but to change up your training routine.
As a parent, you are always concerned about your child’s safety and when they are playing sports, it isn’t any different. This is why before signing your child up for a sport, it is important to ask yourself a few significant questions. Does your child actually want to play the sport? Do you know all of the major risks that are associated with playing that particular sport? What is the appropriate protective equipment? Is it supplied by the league or school? If not, where can you get some? Does the equipment fit your child properly? Are the coaches concerned with their players welfare? Do you they make sure that each child gets a break and is being taught the appropriate techniques? The list could go on and on, but the primary point is to know what it will take for your child to be safe while playing any sport.
Playing sports as a child can be a rewarding and fun experience. While the chances of a have a sports-related injury will never be zero, there are several things that you can do to decrease not only the chance of something happening, but the severity of an injury if it does occur. In most scenarios, the benefits of playing sports outweighs the risks. The only the person that can decide what is best for your child is you. So, don’t hesitate to get the information you need to make an educated decision. Remember, sports should be fun, but definitely safe as much as possible.