Posted on: 2 February 2015
When scientists looked at the brains of 42 former NFL players, they discovered that the players who started playing the game before the age of 12 had the highest risks of neurological impairment. This announcement has made many parents leery of letting their youngsters play football, but it should serve as a warning for parents of all sports players. If your child gets hurt while playing youth sports, it could have lifelong consequences. To protect you, your child and your family, here is what you need to do to prevent and react to youth sports injuries:
1. Provide Safety Equipment and a Safe Environment
Preventing injuries can be just as important as reacting to them. To minimize your child's chances of getting hurt, make sure he or she wears the appropriate safety gear and prepares physically for the game by stretching and warming up. Look at the environment as well, make sure that it is not too hot, that the playing field is not unduly slippery and that the area is well lit.
2. Bench the Player after an Injury
The moment your child gets hurt, pull him or her off the playing field. Sadly, even seemingly innocuous injuries can be extremely damaging, and it can be hard to estimate the severity of an injury unless your child takes a break on the sidelines. Do not ever make your child play through the pain.
3. Seek Medical Assistance as Soon as Possible
Have a medical professional examine your child as soon as possible after the injury, and try to schedule your appointment with a professional who specializes in sports medicine. Getting an exam ensures that you unearth the root cause of the injury and treat it appropriately. Without an exam, you may assume that your child has a minor injury when he or she actually has a very serious one.
For example, strains and sprains, two of the most common youth sports injuries, can heal quickly with a bit of rest. However, what looks like a sprain may in fact be a damaged growth plate. Growth plates consist of tissue at the end of bones – once a child is done growing, these plates turn completely to rigid bone. If these plates are injured while still in their soft state, the growth of the child can be arrested unless he or she receives proper treatment. Similarly, what presents as a headache in a young athlete may be the start of a potentially deadly heat stroke.
4. Make sure Your Athlete is Adequately Supervised
In most cases, it is the responsibility of the athletic association or the affiliated school to ensure that your child is safe while playing sports. Ideally, you should be certain that the coaches are well versed in various types of accidents and injuries, and before letting your child play, you should ensure that there are trained sports medicine professionals on hand during games and practices as well. If there will not be trained medical professionals on hand, make sure that the coach has a clear plan for dealing with injuries.
5. Know Your Rights
If you believe that your child's youth sports injury was caused or exacerbated by a coach, sports medicine professional or another responsible party, you may be able to hold that person or their employer liable for your child's injury with the help of a professional personal injury attorney. In the most basic of cases, their liability means that they have to pay for your medical bills. However, in extreme cases such as when a player dies, the individual or organization may have to compensate the family for their pain and suffering or for wrongful death.