Fall Football Injuries Can Sideline Kids

One in five get hurt on the gridiron

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SUNDAY, Sept. 14, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- As much as children love to play football, it can be hazardous to their health.

Each year, as many as 20 percent of all players between the ages of 8 and 14 get injured during football season, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 150,000 American youngsters under the age of 15 are treated in the emergency room for football injuries annually. For older teens on high school football teams, the injury rate soars as high as 64 percent.

Most injuries aren't serious, with sprains and strains being the most common. In young children, the arms, hands and shoulders are most likely to be injured. Knee injuries are very common in older kids, and can lead to chronic knee pain. About 5 percent of all football injuries are concussions, and once a child has gotten one concussion, he is four to six times more likely to get another, according to the CDC.

The first step to avoiding injury is to make sure your child wears all the required safety gear during games and during practice. Helmets, a mouth guard and pads should all be required for tackle football, advises the CDC.

Check with the coach to make sure "spearing" -- using the helmet to make a tackle -- is forbidden. Have your child warm up and stretch before he plays, teach him not to play if he's in pain, and make sure first aid is readily available.

If your kids are just playing with friends, encourage them to play touch or flag football, and to play on the grass, not on the street or in a driveway.

More information

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh offers more tips on preventing injuries.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh


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