Youth Sports and Kid Concussions
We all know the benefits of participating in youth sports: they provide exercise, enjoyment, and a sense of belonging, while teaching valuable lessons about teamwork, disappointment and persistence, among other things. Nowadays, however, it’s hard to ignore the research on youth sports and kid concussions, and the fact that participating can have potentially serious, long-term consequences. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision.
Which sports are the worst for children and teens?
A recent study showed that youth rugby, hockey and football players had the highest incidence of concussion, but it’s a mistake to think that if your child doesn’t play one of these sports, he or she is safe. Another study found that girls’ soccer was more dangerous than boys’ football; and still another added wrestling and mixed martial arts to the “most dangerous” list. The truth is that, while some sports may pose a higher risk than others, head injuries can occur in any sport or activity. So while you should maybe exercise more caution in allowing your son or daughter to play a full-contact sport like football or soccer; you should also take steps to help them minimize the risk of head injury no matter what sport they play.
What are some of the myths about youth sports and kid concussions?
One important misconception about concussions is that if you don’t have one, you haven’t damaged your brain. Repeated blows to a player’s head can cause serious brain damage, regardless of whether they have sustained a concussion. Another important thing to know is that someone can have a concussion even if they don’t lose consciousness.
What should I do if my child gets a concussion?
If your child gets a concussion, it’s important to support them through the full healing process. According to the Mayo Clinic, forcing a child to return to sports or activity too soon can cause further injury. After a concussion, your child is also at risk of developing post-concussion syndrome. Make sure your child is cleared by a medical professional, not just a coach, before returning to the game and to regular activities.
If my child plays sports, how do I make sure my child is safe?
Many concussions can be prevented if the players wear appropriate, correctly fitting safety gear and follow the rules of the game. In addition, staying in shape and learning proper procedure for contact moves (like how to tackle in football) can go a long way in preventing injuries of all types. Whether your child is well-prepared for their activity, and whether concussions are treated appropriately depends largely on the coaching staff and team culture. Talk to your child’s coaches and the parents of current participants, and make sure you are satisfied with how players are trained, the culture around asking for help or admitting injury, and the protocol for dealing with head injuries.
What are the long-term effects of concussions?
Simply put, a child who gets a concussion is at a higher risk of getting another one; and the effects of repeated head injury can be extremely serious. Long-term consequences may include a higher risk for mental illness and early death, compromised intellectual functioning, and a greater chance of developing dementia.