Youth League: Preventing Injuries Related to Youth Sports
Ka'Derricka Davis is a current MPH candidate (2021) and Research Assistant at Northwestern University. She is an aspiring physician who is passionate about women and children's health, injury prevention, and health equity.
On Chicago’s West side, the beginning of fall marks the start of public school football season. During that time, I expect to see young people on grassy fields who have improperly stretched for the required “five” minutes, and are running football drills with little to no equipment. While it is a wonderful sight to see them enjoying an activity they love, awareness must increase around giving players proper resources to help prevent sports injuries.
Youth Sports Injury Facts
● In 2012, more than 1.35 million children ages 19 and under went to the emergency room for injuries related to 14 commonly played sports like basketball, soccer, and football1-2
● The most common injuries are sprains/strains, fractures, bruises, and concussions, all of which can limit future in involvement physical activity.1-3
● Concussions are the most severe youth sports injury1-2
o Suffering multiple concussions can increase the risk of cognitive impairment 1,4
One way to prevent youth sports injury is to stop exposure (stop playing sports!). This basically happened during the pandemic, when national stay-at-home orders drastically decreased the rates of pediatric sports injuries5. Of course, a world without sports is unrealistic. Participating in youth sports is proven to benefit children’s development: it helps them maintain a healthy body weight, improve social skills and self-esteem, and develops friendships 1,2,6. Ultimately, with the return of professional and college sports, high school and youth sports will soon follow. As such, we spectators, caring adults, guardians, and parents, must ensure that children have a safe return and with less risk for injury.
Preventing youth sports injuries takes communication, advocacy, investment, and research. Here is the role you can play in keeping our kids safe:
● Be sure to do warmups, stretches for your upper and lower body, and wear protective equipment that fits well
● Tell a trusted adult if you are injured (parent, coach, official)
Parents/Any Caring Adult
● Encourage your child to be vocal about injuries1-2,7
● Advocate for safety funding in sports program
● Ensure athletes are properly engaging in the sport
● Implement training that prevents sports related injuries like hip strengthening exercises and neuromuscular warm ups1-3
● Promote general health year-round including regular exercise and healthy sleep habits7
● Address concerns for overuse and proper rest 7
School System/Sporting Associations
● Enforce sporting regulations set by local governing bodies
● Support school programs with updated equipment, athletic trainers, and proper funding to reduce injuries
● Allow research in these areas to help public health professionals understand youth sports injuries and design new tools to prevent them in the future
These steps, along with community support, are necessary to take in order to prevent youth sport related injuries. Together, we can make youth sports injuries a thing of the past.
Ferguson RW. Safe Kids Worldwide Analysis of CPSC NEISS data, 2013.
Safe Kids Worldwide (2013) Game Changers Stats: Stories and What Communities Are Doing to Protect Young Athletes. Retrieved at https://safekids.org/sites/default/files/documents/ResearchReports/game_changers_-_stats_stories_and_what_communites_are_doing_to_protect_young_athletes.pdf
LaBella, C. R., Huxford, M. R., Grissom, J., Kim, K. Y., Peng, J., & Christoffel, K. K. (2011). Effect of neuromuscular warm-up on injuries in female soccer and basketball athletes in urban public high schools: cluster randomized controlled trial. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 165(11), 1033-1040. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.168
Manley, G., Gardner, A. J., Schneider, K. J., Guskiewicz, K. M., Bailes, J., Cantu, R. C., . . . Iverson, G. L. (2017). A systematic review of potential long-term effects of sport-related concussion. Br J Sports Med, 51(12), 969-977. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097791
Keays, G., D. Friedman, and I. Gagnon, Injuries in the time of COVID-19. Health Promot Chronic Dis Prev Can, 2020. 40(11-12): p. 336-341.
Standford’s Children Health. (2021) Organized Sports for Kids. Retrieved https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=organized-sports-for-kids-1-4556
Stracciolini, A., Sugimoto, D., & Howell, D. R. (2017). Injury Prevention in Youth Sports. Pediatr Ann, 46(3), e99-e105. doi:10.3928/19382359-20170223-01