Nearly one-third of all injuries suffered by children are sports-related, with contact and collision sports like football having the highest rates of incidents. According to USA Football, there are an estimated 3,000,000 youth football players in the United States, and nearly 10 percent of those will be injured in a single season. In fact, approximately 448,000 youth football injuries occur to children under the age of 15 each year. While fatalities in youth football are rare, significant head trauma, fractures, and injuries related to overuse and overexertion often leave children with long term, or even permanent loss of use or disability. Fortunately, many youth football related injuries can be prevented.
Preventing Youth Football Injuries
USA Football and a number of other safety focused organizations recommend that parents, coaches and players adhere to the following guidelines to help reduce the number of injuries suffered in youth football.
- Preparing for the Heat: Exertional Heat Stroke (EHS) is consistently ranked as one of the top three causes of fatality in sports. Most cases of heat stroke occur during summer practices when players are not properly conditioned for the high temperatures and increased physical exertion. It is recommended that players gradually increase the duration and intensity of practices and the amount of equipment worn over a two week period while their bodies adapt. Keeping players well hydrated and offering frequent rest periods can be effective for preventing heat stroke as well.
- Contact: Children under 10 should avoid tackling during football. Rapid growth spurts and difficulty with coordination, combined with open growth plates during this age can make players more susceptible to serious injuries. When players are ready to advance to full contact, they should be introduced to proper contact techniques progressively, beginning with air tackling, and gradually moving to full contact drills. Doing so will optimize skill development and ensure that safer tackling and blocking is performed. Improper tackling and blocking can lead to permanent paralysis and even death.
- Safety Equipment: The use of proper safety equipment is essential both at practices and during actual games. Helmets, mouth guards and pads should be in good condition and properly fitted. If adequate safety gear is not available, practice drills should exclude contact until protection can be provided. Safety equipment significantly reduces the risk for serious injuries in youth football.
- Awareness: Parents, coaches and players should familiarize themselves with the signs of concussion. If a player feels dizzy or confused, begins vomiting, has blurred vision or loses consciousness after a blow, he should be removed from the game or practice until a medical professional determines that he is fit to return to the field. While some concussions may start out as minor, repeated trauma that occurs before the healing process is complete can result in serious, sometimes permanent damage.
The risk for youth football injuries in Nevada is significant, and a Las Vegas injury lawyer might see multiple incidents of childhood sports accidents throughout his or her career. Through education and training, the use of safety equipment, and gradually increasing kids’ exposure, however, it is hoped that fewer children will end up injured.