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Safe Kids Research Shows Increase In Youth Sports Injuries

New research from the Safe Kids Worldwide organization outlines the risks that student athletes face when they compete.  By looking at emergency room data from 2011, researchers were able to determine the rate at which kids are injured while taking part in a sport.  Their findings show that a child is injured on average once every 25 seconds.

To arrive at this figure, the persons behind the study took into account the 1.35 million or so visits to the emergency room prompted by a sports injury every year.  There are two areas of growth that have caused particular alarm among researchers:  concussions and knee injuries.

The risk of concussions is increasingly being understood by proponents of youth sports, and numerous efforts are in place to cut down the threat.  Football draws the largest share of media attention considering that it’s the leader in terms of the highest number of concussions, but wrestling and cheerleading actually lead to their fair share of head injuries as well.  And in terms of the greatest percentage of overall injuries, hockey leads the field with 31% of all injuries being categorized as a concussion.

Around 163,000 trips to the emergency room due to a sports injury are because of a concussion, and 47% of these are incurred by the 12 to 15 year demographic.  The American Academy of Neurology has pointed out that younger kids have more trouble bouncing back from concussions than do adults.  And because swelling could be more common, many organizations are urging caution when it comes to making the decision to place a child back in a game.

But it’s perhaps the finding regarding knee injuries that could cause even more eyebrows to raise.  After all, the risk of concussions is widely known, but not many parents think of their children as being susceptible to something like an Anterior Cruciate Ligament tear, of which female student athletes have been shown to be eight times more at risk than males.  10% of the aforementioned trips to the ER were due to knee injuries.

One orthopedic surgeon has pointed out that these increased injury rates among younger demographics could have to do with overuse.  Concerns are starting to arise that a drive to hone one’s skills all throughout the year could cause kids to put too much strain on one set of muscles while ignoring another set, conditions that could lead to hindered development.

Safe Kids is calling for more attention to be placed on those techniques which can reduce the threat of injury.  Doing so will require coaches, parents, and students themselves to work together to promote good health.


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