Preventable Injuries Sideline One-Third of Young Athletes
Survey of parents, kids, coaches finds knowledge gaps about sports safety
THURSDAY, April 26, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- One in three American children who plays team sports suffers injuries severe enough to require medical treatment, according to a national survey released Tuesday by Safe Kids.
The new survey -- which coincides with Safe Kids Week, April 21 to April 28 -- also found that nine of 10 parents underestimate how long children should refrain from playing any one sport in order to protect them from overuse, overtraining and burnout.
Children need to take two to three months (or a season) away from a specific sport every year in order to avoid those problems, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.
The survey showed that about four of 10 parents underestimate the amount of fluids a typical youth athlete needs for each hour they play. In order to prevent dehydration, children require fluids every 15 to 20 minutes during physical activity.
Ninety-two percent of parents said they rely on coaches to keep their children safe while playing sports. But nearly half of all coaches said they have felt pressure to play an injured child in a game. And three of 10 children think a good player should keep playing even when they're hurt, unless a coach or other adult makes them stop.
Only two in 5 parents know how much sports safety training their child's coach has received. Even well-trained coaches said they would like additional training -- with about three-fourths interested in learning more about preventing concussions and heat illness. The main factors preventing coaches from getting more training are cost, lack of time and lack of local sources of information.
The survey also found that more than half of all coaches believe there is an acceptable amount of head contact during play without potentially causing a serious brain injury. It's difficult to tell the degree of head impact, however, and every precaution should be taken to protect children from head injuries, according to Coaching Our Kids to Fewer Injuries: A Report on Youth Sports Safety.
"The research findings are particularly alarming because experts tell us more than half of these injuries are preventable," Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, said in an organization news release. "There is a gap between what we as coaches and parents can do to keep our kids safe and what we're actually doing. With some simple precautions, we can change these troubling statistics and keep our kids healthy and enjoying the benefits of sports."
"Culturally, there's an attitude that injuries are a natural consequence of sports and that good athletes tough it out when they suffer an injury. But that attitude is hurting our kids," Carr noted.
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about childhood sports injuries and their prevention.