The statistics are alarming: each year, more than 80,000 American children are hospitalized with a brain injury. More than 11,000 of these children die because of this type of serious injury, making traumatic brain injury the number one cause of death and disability among American youth. Why is this so prevalent in our society, especially among child athletes and what is being done to prevent it?
Football, Soccer, and Cheerleading Lead the Stats
According to a recent report by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, severe head injuries in children who play sports is on the rise. The most common sport that contributes to kids’ head injuries is football. This statistic for football is not surprising, with concussions happening all too frequently. When a concussion is left untreated, or the player returns to the game too soon, the results can be life-threatening.
Too often reckless medical professionals fail to prevent young jocks from returning to the gridiron prematurely. As one malpractice attorney in Maryland, stated it, these kids and their parents “should be able to trust their physicians, nurses, and other medical caregivers to provide a professionally acceptable standard of care.” More cautious medical attention might prevent some injuries becoming exacerbated.
The statistics for soccer and cheerleading are a bit more surprising than those for football. Soccer injuries occur when players collide on the field and result in concussions. Again, returning to the field too soon exacerbates the injuries. Finally, cheerleading is the number one cause of injury for girls, and often the kids who catch the other girls after they flip in the air are the ones that suffer the most head injuries.
What is Being Done to Combat This?
Research is being conducted on childhood athletes in football, soccer, and cheerleading, as well as sports where brain injury is a serious concern. The technology of brain imaging and visual evidence of trauma is being used and improved much more frequently to diagnose the extent of the injury when kids are brought to emergency rooms. As one doctor reports, “We are on the cusp of seeing concussion in real time on imaging.”
What You Can Do to Prevent Your Child’s Injury
Some things you can do to prevent your child’s sports injury from becoming debilitating or life threatening are as follows:
- If you witness an accident during a game, remove your child from the field immediately for medical evaluation.
- Visit the emergency room right away if your child is unconscious, has loss of vision, decreased alertness, vomiting, or a severe headache.
- Visit your pediatrician if your child appears to have lingering symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, changes in behavior, continual pain, or emotional issues.
- Do not allow your son or daughter to return to his or her sport until it cleared by a reliable physician; after all symptoms have been resolved.
- Do not allow physically vulnerable kids to participate in dangerous or high-risk sports.
- Make sure you children have proper fitting safety equipment.
Finally, if you believe your child has been injured as a result of negligence in his or her sport, you may want to contact an experienced personal injury or Maryland medical malpractice attorney to have your questions answered by a professional.
As parents, we do our best to protect our children from harm. Allowing them to participate in sports and have a good time while learning a new skill can be a positive life experience for everyone involved. Just be sure to obey all safety precautions, and do whatever you can to get treatment immediately in the event of an injury.
LaGeris Underwood Bell is a writer and a mom. She hopes this article will enlighten other parents about the dangerous but preventable problem of severe sports-related injuries to young athletes. To those families living in Maryland, she suggests consulting a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer if, after an injury, there is concern about medical malfeasance on the part of healthcare providers.