Sports Injuries in Our Youth
By, Dan Johnson, PT
WCA Hospital Director of Rehabilitation Services
Sports injuries in youth across the nation have reached epidemic proportions. It is estimated that over 8,000 young people seek medical care for sports-related injuries each day in emergency rooms across the country.
Experts from the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) released the following statistics at a recent conference in our nation’s capital:
- Forty-eight youths died as a result of sports injuries in the past year.
- Approximately 63,000 high school athletes suffer brain injuries every year.
- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently stated that high school athletes suffer 2 million injuries, 500,000 physician visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.
Given these statistics, the NATA has issued a national report card on youth sport safety with a grade of C-. Marjorie Albohm, president of the NATA believes that young athletes are a neglected population in terms of focus on health and safety during athletic participation. The number of youth participating in sports far outweigh the number of elite professional athletes but do not get the attention they deserve in relation to health and safety according to Albohm.
Many believe that the youth sports injury situation is a public health issue. Injuries sustained in youth may lead to long term problems down the road. As a result, the NATA, along with approximately 40 health and sports organizations, created the Youth Sports Alliance in efforts to push for legislation and to educate coaches and others involved with youth sports, to prevent injury and assure appropriate medical care to injured athletes.
As educators, coaches, and healthcare professionals, it is our obligation to do everything that we can to assure that our young athletes participate safely in their chosen sport. Sports participation often carries with it a warrior mentality. Below the college level, decisions about return to play often fall upon the coach putting a great deal of pressure on him or her to make the correct decision. Young athletes may tend to underreport their injuries and it’s important that coaches learn to recognize when that occurs.
Another national program recently developed to address the issue of rising injuries in the young athlete is the STOP Program. This program is supported by a number of national organizations, including the National Athletic Trainers Association, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the Sports Section of the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others. Useful information for coaches, athletes, parents, and others can be obtained by going to their website at www.stopsportsinjuries.org.
Conveniently located at the WCA Center For Orthopedics, Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Services, located directly behind WCA Hospital, 207 Foote Avenue, the Sports Medicine Program was created exclusively for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of sports related injuries. To schedule an appointment, call the WCA Sports Medicine program at 664-8604.