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Catherine Holecko

Making sports safer

By April 25, 2012

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I have an acquaintance whose child just suffered a severe concussion while playing soccer. Not only is it scary to think about your child's brain being injured, the recovery from concussion can be extreme too. The player needs physical and cognitive rest for at least a few days and sometimes several weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. Cognitive rest means no school, no homework, no reading books, no computer or texting or screens of any kind. The only thing the patient should do is lie down, maybe listening to some music without words.

As parents, we depend on coaches to help our kids stay safe on the playing field. That's why two stats from a recent survey jumped out at me:

  • More than half of coaches surveyed believed there was an "acceptable amount" of head contact that kids could experience without sustaining a serious injury.  Coaches under 35 years old and paid coaches were even more likely to believe this. (It isn't true--even seemingly minor bumps on the head can cause a concussion, so players should be watched carefully for symptoms.)
  • Almost half of the coaches said that they have "felt pressure, either from parents or children, to play an injured child in a game." (Kids who have a concussion should not return to play until their symptoms are gone and they are cleared by a medical professional; kids who have other kinds of injuries should also get the all-clear before playing again, or they risk worsening the damage.)

The survey, Coaching Our Kids to Fewer Injuries: A Report on Youth Sports Safety, was commissioned by Safe Kids Worldwide and Johnson & Johnson, and polled about 2,000 parents, kids, and coaches. About half of the coaches said they were "very knowledgeable" about injuries, and about 60% said they had undergone sports safety training. But even greater numbers (about 75%) wanted more training, especially in concussion prevention and heat-related illness. And 62% of parents said they didn't know whether their child's coaches had any training in sports injury prevention.

April 26, 2012 at 7:57 am
(1) Kara Corridan says:

How’s the child doing now? Interested to know more–how old, what happened on the field, and when did the parents know something was wrong? Hoping we see a drop in numbers now that so much attention is being paid to concussions and safe play.

April 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm
(2) Catherine says:

Kara, the player was about 15 and is still recuperating. Apparently it was a case of heading the ball in an unsafe way, and there was a penalty administered – which I think is a good sign that the officials are taking this action seriously.

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