While the National Football League (NFL) is the most popular and richest professional sports league in the U.S., it is no secret that the sport is VERY dangerous. With the professional football season in full swing, it is common to hear talk of concussions. Most parents understand that football is a risky sport. But, let’s look at four other sports that put your child at risk for concussions:
Soccer is an increasing popular youth sport, and a deceivingly dangerous one at that. Sure, it is a sport focused on using the feet and legs to control the ball, but one play, the header, puts soccer towards the top of the list for youth concussion risk. When players leap in the air (sometimes two or three at a time), trying to direct the ball with their heads, flailing elbows and shoulders are bound to connect with a player’s head.
The old joke: “I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out!” makes light of the completely unnecessary fighting inthe National Hockey League (NHL). In fact, fighting is banned at nearly every other level of hockey worldwide. So, while your child may not be trading blows on skates, hockey remains a very physical sport. Falls suffered by inexperienced ice skaters, high-flying pucks and unwieldy hockey sticks can all cause accidental injury in the hockey rink.
America’s long-revered pastime sports are leisurely, untimed affairs, but not without concussion risk. While helmets are required on every level of baseball and softball, too often they come flying off, leaving children unprotected. Head first slides are particularly risky. When a child’s head goes barreling into an opposing players shin or foot, the head is always going to lose, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Cheerleading is a challenging, demanding and highly competitive team sport--impressive and daring, but dangerous. Cheerleaders climb, jump and fly through the air with no equipment to prevent injury. In fact, 20% of all cheerleading injuries are concussions (source). Most injuries come from a hard fall or a kick to the head from a teammate.
Treating concussions is no joke. Look out for the following symptoms if your child hits her or his head, no matter how minor:
- Trouble remembering
- Nausea (such as car sickness)
- Trouble reading (difficulty adjusting from looking far away to focusing on text in front of them)
- Trouble falling and staying asleep
And, head to the ER right away if any of these symptoms occur:
- Worsening headache
- Prolonged loss of consciousness
- Persistent confusion (that doesn’t go away after a few minutes)
Regardless, make sure your child stays off the playing field until completely healed. Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) occurs when a second head injury happens on top of an unhealed first concussion. SIS can be deadly, particularly in children.
Visit the government’s CDC website for more information. Sports can have a life-long positive impact on your children, just make sure it is a safe impact.