As we approach the end of football season and enter playoffs, I can’t help but think about the anxiety that I and most parents of football players have. Oh yes, I remember those days when my son played high school football. When I went to his games I cringed every minute he was in the game. As I sat on those cold bleaches, my heart was pounding as I counted down the seconds of every period. As a pediatric nurse, I have witnessed firsthand the amount of damage, and pain, an athlete endured after an injury. I also remember the fear and deep anxiety that the parents, coaches, referees, and all spectators have when a player fails to get up after a play. When a child is injured, everyone is concerned.
Youth Sports Injury Statistics
Athletic injuries happen fast and more often than you think. In the U.S., about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports, and more than 3.5 million injuriess each year, which cause some loss of time of participation, are experienced by the participants participants. Almost one–third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports–related injuries. By far, the most common injuries are sprains and strains. Although common they are very painful and very scary to children and their parents.
Obviously, some sports are more dangerous than others. For example, contact sports such as football can be expected to result in a higher number of injuries than a noncontact sport such as swimming. However, all types of sports have a potential for injury, whether from the trauma of contact with other players or from overuse or misuse of a body part.
Based on the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 775,000 children, ages 14 and younger, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports–related injuries each year. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.
Types of sports and recreational activities
Consider these estimated injury statistics for 2009 from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
More than 170,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for basketball-related injuries.
Baseball and Softball
Nearly 110,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries. Baseball also has the highest fatality rate among sports for children ages 5 to 14, with three to four children dying from baseball
injuries each year.
Nearly 110,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries. More than 200,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries.
Almost 215,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency
rooms for football-related injuries.
More than 20,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ice hockey-related injuries.
In-line and Roller Skating Hockey
More than 47,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for in-line skating-related injuries.
More than 66,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for skateboarding-related injuries.
Sledding or Toboggan
More than 16,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries
Snow Skiing or Snowboarding
More than 25,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for snowboarding and snow skiing-related injuries.
About 88,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for
About 65,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for trampoline-related injuries.
Be Prepared with an Emergency Action Plan
Playing sports comes with inherent risks, but parents and students expect that coaches, schools, and league managers have calculated all the risks and have everything under control. Having an action plan in place shows your commitment to student-athlete wellness and safety.
An emergency Action Plan may include the following:
- Emergency Personnel
- Emergency Communication
- Emergency Equipment
- Medical Transportation
- Non-medical Transportation
- Emergency Contact List
- Accident/Injury Contact Phone Tree
- Campus Map with AED Locations Marked
- Venue Information Chart
- An EAP should be done for each sport at each venue where they may practice or host competitions.
- Staff Medical Certification Requirements
- Verification of Training Using the Emergency Action Plan
Depending on the setting, the institution may not have an athletic trainer present at all times. You should make relevant notes and plans throughout the EAP to ensure that proper protocol can be followed no matter who is available.
Who is truly looking after the injured athlete? Who knows the child’s medical background? Who has the emergency contact information, and who will make the call home? Most importantly, who knows how to attend to the athlete’s medical needs? The reality is that the coaches are coaching their teams, and the Athletic Director is tending to the many obligations that come with running their program.
Believe me, when I say, parents are confident that the coaches and the school have calculated all the risk and have everything under control. With that said, I urge you to explore the answers to the above questions. Do you really want to gamble with your parent’s confidence?
Let us help!
Ask yourself. During your events who truly is looking after the injured athlete? If you do not have an athletic trainer, do you really want to gamble if a parent in the audience is capable and willing to provide medical support?
Who truly has the time, training, or desire to properly tend to the athlete’s injuries? We are prepared, equipped, and committed to supporting you and your athletes. Contact us and learn how we can help.