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How to prevent personal injury and especially those related to concussions in youth sports?

Flag footballAn increased number of parents have been worrying about their kids getting injured in contact sports after seeing the movie “Concussion” (see our previous blog). In a recent article Kristy Arbogast, Co-Scientific Director and Director of Engineering for the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a Research Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania says many parents have asked questions about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Parents want to know if kids who play contact sports are at risk to  develop CTE in the future. Kristy Arbohast who is a brain injury specialist, says that so far unfortunately there is no answer to this question. Some kids who played contact sports at high level (collegiate football or rugby) have developed symptoms of CTE but scientists still don’t know what predisposes a person to CTE.

Kristy Arbohast recommends that parents whose kids are interested in being involved in a contact sports make sure they are are proprely managed and coached. Parents should check that their child is playing in a league that requires coaches to be trained to recognize concussion signs. The coach should not only be trained in recognizing concussion signs but also have to respect the time that is needed to recover from a concussion. Recent research has shown that the best way to recover from a concussion is rest and then a progressive return to learning and playing activities.  Additionally parents should advocate for changes in rules to promote safety. Some rules can be changed so children are protected from injuries but still learn the skills for a specific sport. Flag football is a good example of how a child can still develop football skills while limiting personal injuries related to tackling players to the ground. Rules in hockey which prohibit body checking for youngsters have also help in reducing the number of head injuries in youth hockey.

The complete article can be read here