Concussions are particularly concerning, especially in younger children, because of the potential for deadly brain swelling.
A new report from Safe Kids Worldwide analyzed data on sports-related injuries in children ages 19 and under. The report indicates that, in 2012, there were 1.35 million sports-related injuries seen by emergency departments. The most common diagnoses were strains and sprains, followed by fractures. Over 163,000 kids were seen for concussions, 47 percent of which were between the ages of 12 and 15.
Stop Sports Injuries provides further data beyond the emergency room. Including non-emergency treatment, 3.5 million children under the age of 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries every year. High school athletes account for 2 million injuries, half a million doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations. The majority of injuries, an estimated 62 percent, occur during practice.
The rate of emergency room visits and sports-related injuries means that, every 25 seconds, a child is hurt while playing sports, according to CBS News. The results also showed that football has the most overall injuries, followed by wrestling and cheerleading. Ten percent of visits were knee injuries, commonly a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Girls were eight times more likely to suffer an ACL injury for reasons unknown. Concussions are particularly concerning, especially in younger children, because of the potential for deadly brain swelling.
Head injuries can also create lasting problems. WebMD describes post-concussion syndrome, which is a general category of symptoms that present and persist after a brain injury. It can be difficult to diagnose post-concussion syndrome because of the vague symptoms and their potential linkage to other sources. Symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, sleep difficulties, cognitive impairments, and psychological symptoms. Multiple injuries can exacerbate symptoms.
A study on the effects of brain injury indicated that a single concussion could permanently alter the brain, stated Fox News. Between one or two months following an injury and one year after the injury, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) indicated differences in brain volume and also showed structural damage to different regions of the brain. Depending on the location and extent of structural damage, this can create lasting impairments and changes to the individual.
More than half of children’s sports-related injuries are preventable, according to Stop Sports Injuries. The National Institutes of Health suggests that parents take action to help prevent their child getting injured. Methods for prevention include ensuring organized sports the child participates in use equipment properly and enforce rules for proper use, providing or assuring access to water or a sports drink during practice and games, helping the child understand and follow safety rules for sports, and making warming up and cooling down a regular part of the child’s sports routine.