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Sports Safety Policy Brief
By the Numbers
- About 3.5 million kids receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year, enough kids to fill the Redskins’ stadium 38 times.
- There’s been more than a 400 percent increase in sports-related knee ACL injuries over the past decade, partly due to year-round play.
- Young female soccer players are the second-largest group to report having concussions.
- In a Safe Kids national survey of youth coaches and parents, parents report that more than a third of children who play team sports sustain injuries severe enough to require medical treatment.
- High school athletes suffer an estimated 9,237 heat illnesses every year, serious enough to keep them out of sports for one or more days.
Advocacy at Work
Safe Kids released “Coaching Our Kids to Fewer Injuries” in April 2012. It outlined the findings of a survey of kids, parents and coaches about their knowledge of sports injuries and how to prevent them. Only two in five parents know how much sports injury prevention training their kids’ coaches have received. Nine in 10 parents underestimate the time a young athlete should take off from a sport during the year to prevent overuse injuries. This research, supported by Safe Kids’ founding sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, is providing the foundation for our work on sports safety, including policy efforts. Safe Kids’ coalitions held more than 400 safe sports clinics in 2012.
Concussions and Other Injuries
Not limited to football, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are pervasive in both girls’ and boys’ sports: soccer, basketball and other contact sports. According to the NFL, 43 states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws to help prevent and limit the damaging effects of concussions in contact sports. Specifically, many of the laws include the following: 1) a signed consent from parents that they recognize the risks involved; 2) education for coaches on concussions, and when to know a TBI has occurred; 3) withdrawing the athlete from play; and 4) permitting return to play only after the child is evaluated by a medical professional. Safe Kids coalitions were deeply involved in the recent campaigns to pass concussion laws in Wisconsin and Maine.
Education for Coaches
Safe Kids supports the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its Heads Up Online Training Course for coaches on injury prevention, which has expanded beyond football. The CDC must have adequate funding to support the educational effort.