We love that our kids play sports. It’s healthy for them to get outside and exercise and it’s good for them to learn how to practice with discipline and play as part of a team. Unfortunately, sports also involve the risk of injury. We do what we can to keep our kids safe – we teach them proper techniques and make sure they wear appropriate protective gear. Sometimes, that’s not enough. When your child is injured playing sports, what can you do?
Sports injuries are quite common. In fact, they’re the 2nd leading cause of emergency room visits for kids and the 2nd leading cause of injuries in school. They account for more than 3 million emergency room visits and 5 million primary care visits every year.
In general, contact sports are more dangerous than non-contact sports, for obvious reasons. Football causes the most injuries, followed by basketball, soccer, and baseball. The injuries tend to get more serious as the kids get older, since they’re bigger and playing harder. Two 16-year-olds crashing into each other on the gridiron has a lot more potential for injury than two 8-year-olds.
In general, kid’s sports injuries have been on the rise for years. Experts attribute this to kids taking on longer hours of practice and more competitive levels of play at younger ages. They’re playing more and with more aggression than kids used to, which means that accidents are more common.
Strains and sprains are the most common complaints, followed by bruises. These are typically overuse injuries, caused by doing the same motions repeatedly without giving the body enough time to heal. For example, softball players often have shoulder and elbow overuse injuries while runners tend to have more trouble with their knees and ankles. Overuse injuries are painful and take time to heal. They also put the kids at risk for later re-injury of the same joints or muscles.
Concussions are also very common injuries for kids – they account for half of all emergency room visits for children between the ages of 8 and 13.
A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury that occurs when a blow to the head causes the brain to hit the skull. Any sport that involves falling or getting hit with a ball can lead to a concussion, but contact sports are the biggest offenders. Football, lacrosse, wrestling, and ice hockey cause the most concussions among high school males. Soccer takes the top spot for high school females, followed by basketball.
We tend to associate concussions with passing out, and passing out is certainly an indicator. However, most cases don’t involve any loss of consciousness. Kids are often eager to get right back into the game, so it can be tough to tell how seriously they’re injured. Worse, trained medical professionals are often in short supply on the sidelines of high school games, let alone games for younger children. That leaves volunteer coaches or parents to try to assess a child’s injury, meaning some concussions will inevitably be missed and the child will return to play and risk serious and permanent damage.
Fortunately, most concussions aren’t serious and the child will heal completely with rest. However, all possible concussions should be evaluated by a medical professional – sometimes kids seem fine and then develop symptoms later. Remember that a concussion may be caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head or a blow to the body that causes the head to snap around.
If left untreated, a concussion can cause dizziness, loss of focus, reading comprehension problems, and other physical and mental side effects. Concussions have also been linked to a higher risk of emotional and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. In other words, these traumatic brain injuries are serious and always require medical attention.
The best way to keep your child safe during sports is to be proactive and involved. Make sure you know the coaches and the organization in charge of practices and games. Teach your child about sports safety, including using the proper technique and wearing the proper equipment. You should also talk to your child about when to seek medical attention – many kids feel pressure to get right back into the game even if they may be seriously injured. Stay involved with the parents of other kids on the team to ensure that you know about any unnecessarily dangerous activities or situations that may put your child at risk.
If your child is injured during a sports game or practice, you should evaluate the injury and seek medical attention if necessary. Small scrapes may not require any treatment, but any injury that may have caused head trauma should be treated by a medical professional.
Sometimes, sports accidents happen. Sports are inherently risky and kids aren’t always good at evaluating the risks or their own injuries. However, that’s part of the reason we have coaches and other adults on hand to manage and monitor practice and games. They’re legally obligated to ensure that all the kids have proper training, equipment, supervision, and medical care.
If a coach or other athletic supervisor fails to adequately supervise an activity, ensure that each child has the proper safety equipment, or train each child on how to participate safely and a child gets injured, it may be considered negligence in a court of law. In other words, the coach or trainer failed to take reasonable care to protect your child from harm. You and your child may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and more.
Of course, not every accident is caused by negligence. Sports are dangerous and a certain number of injuries are unavoidable. The most important thing is to talk to your kids and their coaches about safety practices and reminding them that their health comes before everything else, no matter how big the game is.
If your child was injured due to the negligence of a coach or other responsible party, you may be entitled to compensation. Please get in touch for a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys to learn about your legal options and rights.
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