It’s that time of year again when parents start thinking about getting their children back into the school routine. While this is a great and exciting opportunity for kids, it also means more exposure to sports injuries such as concussions and spine injuries. In fact, research has shown that youth athletes are more likely to suffer a concussion than adults. A child’s skull is large compared to their brain, and the neck muscles are weaker than adult neck muscles. Young athletes may also be more likely to experience concussions because their brains are still developing.
Youth tackle football athletes experienced a median of 378 head impacts per athlete during the season. Flag football athletes experienced a median of 8 eight head impacts per athlete during the season.
What Parents Can Do to Help Prevent a Sports Injury for Their Child
Parents should talk with their children about the importance of taking care of themselves. They can also work closely with coaches and trainers so they understand proper safety techniques and rules for games. It’s important that athletes know when it is okay to play sport or exercise, and when it’s not. Parents should make sure their child is up to date on all vaccinations, to ensure that they are healthy enough to participate in sports.
If your child has already suffered a concussion or spine injury during an athletic event, you may want to consider consulting with a doctor about participating in certain types of activities in the future.
As always, if your child is showing signs of concussion or a spine injury immediately after an incident, you should seek medical attention right away and have them evaluated by a doctor. Then rest until symptoms are gone before participating in any type of activity again.
Parents should encourage their children to participate in activities that will build strength, coordination, and balance. These include swimming, walking, or hiking; sports such as tennis, football or basketball; gymnastics and cheerleading are all great options for kids to stay fit without putting themselves at risk of injury.
Parents should continue to encourage their children to participate in sports and exercise, but also be sure they take the necessary precautions for safety.
There are many resources available that can help you know what activities your child may or may not be ready for based on their age and maturity level at different stages of development. If you have any questions, speak with your doctor.
Dr. J. Patrick Johnson is a renowned neurosurgeon and concussion expert and has a has a long history working as a sideline concussion doctor with the NFL.
The information provided on this website should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition and is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. If you think you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of a physician. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.