The numbers are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency departments across the United States treat approximately 2.6 million children ages 0 to 19 for sports- and recreation-related injuries each year.
As shocking is that statistic is, the number of overuse injuries in youth sports is likely equal or even higher. Overuse injuries develop over time. Parents and coaches usually do not take kids with these issues to emergency departments, so they are harder to quantify.
Parents, coaches and healthcare professionals can prevent overuse injuries in youth sports. We can at least decrease the incidence of traumatic injuries as well.
We can, and we should.
April is Youth Sports Safety Month. For the next thirty days, I’ll share ideas and information about youth sports injuries and injury prevention on my blog, on my podcast, and on Twitter and Facebook.
I want all of you to join me. Here are some of the ways all of you can help.
Give short talks to youth or school teams in your area. Discuss the risks of injuries in youth sports. Talk about the signs and symptoms of injuries. Offer ideas to decrease injury risks for their sports.
Contact professional teams in your area. Offer to coordinate a youth sports safety event for local athletes, parents and coaches.
Contact high school and college teams. Ask them to read youth sports safety information during PA announcements.
Host fundraisers or silent auctions to raise money and awareness. Use the money raised for advertisements in the sports sections of local newspapers. Or use it for protective equipment for the athletes or to hire athletic trainers.
Write letters to the editor for your local newspaper. If you are a concerned parent, coach or healthcare professional, offer to write a guest article on youth sports injuries.
Create 15- or 30-second public service announcements. If you have friends or colleagues who work at local radio or television stations, ask them to run these PSA’s occasionally.
Take out advertisements in local newspapers and magazines promoting youth sports safety.
Use Twitter to share information on youth sports. Tweet injury statistics, ideas for injury prevention, or other articles on youth sports. Use the hashtag #YSSM2013 in your tweets to increase their exposure.
Share personal stories of injuries or your efforts to spread this message on Facebook.
Participate in the STOP Sports Injuries tweetchats in April. Join us April 10 and April 24 at 8 PM ET on Twitter. Parents, coaches, healthcare professionals and athletes will share ideas from all over the world in lively, interactive discussions. Remember to use the hashtag #SportsSafety.
Blog or record podcasts yourself. Write about injuries in youth baseball, soccer, football and other sports. Discuss injury prevention topics on your podcast. Spread the message!
STOP Sports Injuries
Get involved with the STOP Sports Injuries campaign. This organization, led by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, is a partnership with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Safe Kids USA, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the Sports Physical Therapy Section, and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America. Read the blog, share your photos and videos, sign up as a sponsor.
There are so many positive aspects of sports for children and adolescents. Youth athletes not only can have better physical health, but they also experience mental, emotional, social and academic gains as well. We just have to keep kids healthy enough to play!
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How else can we all get involved to promote safety efforts for our young athetes? Share your ideas in the comments section below!