Avoiding Concussions and Implementing Risk Management Procedures to Ensure Safer Youth Sports
U.S. sports are a huge part of our culture; events such as the Olympics, March Madness and the Super Bowl have exploded in popularity thanks to social media, live broadcasts and greater accessibility and viewership.
However, the youth sports sector is a growing sports category that does not necessarily garner the same attention as these national and international events. According to ESPN, in the U.S. alone, over 21 million children between the ages of 6 and 17 participate in sports on a regular or frequent basis. While sports are a large part of our culture, we do need to take the inherent risks, specifically concussions, seriously.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head. All concussions, minor or not, sustained by youth or a professional athlete are serious. Although more and more funds are being devoted to research, much is still unknown of the lasting effects, making these injuries even more serious. This is especially true with youth. According to Head Case, four to five million concussions occur annually, and these numbers are on the rise for middle school students.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia enacted “return to play” laws with regard to youth and concussions. While concussions are an inherent risk, organizations can use several easy risk management procedures to help make sports safer. These procedures take after most of the “return to play” laws that have been passed.
The first step is to educate not only the coaches, but the players, parents and staff as well. For example, a Pop Warner running back star, Donovan Hill, age 18, recently died due to complications from a brain injury he sustained in a 2011 league championship game after leading with his head on an attempted tackle. According to the New York Daily News, Hill’s former head coach never completed his concussion training, and the former assistant coach said he never received any concussion training at all. Implementing the appropriate training and techniques can certainly reduce risk and ultimately help save lives.
Furthermore, education can ensure a safer environment to help recognize the possible signs, acknowledge the dangers and dispel the misconceptions of these injuries. One common misconception is that a player needs to hit his or her head to sustain a concussion. This is false, as a hit to the body may also cause the brain to bounce or twist in the skull resulting in a concussion. The second misconception is the need to become unconscious for a concussion to occur; however, according to Head Case, about 90 percent of diagnosed concussions do not involve a loss of consciousness.
The second step to avoid concussions is to remove a player from the field of play as soon as a concussion is slightly suspected. It does not matter if it is the star playing during a championship game; one game is not worth the damages of an untreated concussion. According to a New York Times article, leaving a player in the game after a concussion is extremely dangerous, as a second injury could lead to second-impact syndrome, which can lead to lifelong damage, paralysis or even death.
Lastly, youth sports organizations should not allow a player to return to play until he or she has rested for at least 24 hours and has medical sign off. Concussion symptoms do not always appear right away. The only true way to heal is to rest.
Sports are very important and beneficial to youth and society, but youth sports organizations are susceptible to many risks and should take injuries like concussions, seriously. Our Youth Sports product is designed to make sure that these organizations have the resources and knowledge to implement safeguards for this risk.
As always, thank you for your support and business.
Written by Michael Plakis
june 9, 2016
Contact Kyle Dufresne,
Youth Sports Product Leader | 888-523-5545 Ext. 2750