Safe Kids USA Launches New National Initiative To Reduce Sports Injuries in Kids
Group Says Moms, Dads Can Do More to Prevent Many of the 3.5M Youth Sports Injuries That Occur Each Year
Washington, DC – Safe Kids USA has announced the launch of a new educational effort aimed at helping parents, coaches and athletes reduce the more than 3.5 million injuries that occur in youth sports every year in the United States.[i] The nationwide initiative is the latest focus area for Safe Kids USA and its 600 coalitions, which also works to prevent unintentional childhood injury in other areas including drowning, car accidents and poison prevention.
This effort will focus on the most common causes of preventable injuries including overuse, dehydration, heat-related illness, concussion and injuries caused by pre-existing medical conditions and lack of conditioning. Safe Kids USA will supply its coalitions with information to help parents, coaches and athletes in their communities reduce injuries. The initiative is being supported by Johnson & Johnson, the founding sponsor of Safe Kids Worldwide and Safe Kids USA (www.safekids.org).
“Injuries in youth sports are occurring at an alarming rate,” said Mitch Stoller, President and Chief Executive Officer of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Risks are often recognized too late or injuries are looked upon as just part of the game. We’re here to say it’s not always part of the game and there are things that each one of us can do, particularly parents, to help shape the physical and emotional environment for safe and fun participation in sports.”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 38 million children and adolescents participate in organized sports in the U.S.[ii] and about 1-in-10 receives medical treatment for a sports injury.1 Experts say as many as half the injuries sustained by youth while playing sports are likely preventable.[iii]
“Encouraging children to play sports is one of the best ways to help them stay fit, develop athletic skills, make friends and learn valuable lessons that they can carry for a lifetime,” said John Hurley, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who treats young athletes and is working with Safe Kids USA. “But young athletes have special needs because their bodies are still growing making them more prone to injury. And, if there is too much pressure to compete, they may overexert themselves, play in pain or return to activity too quickly after an injury, all of which could have both short- and long-term consequences.”
As part of its educational campaign, Safe Kids USA and Johnson & Johnson have partnered with cable network, Nickelodeon and internet service and media company, AOL to develop and run public service announcements (PSAs) on the prevention of youth sports injury. Nickelodeon will continue airing the PSAs through October on TeenNick, Nick at Nite and other Nickelodeon programming; and AOL will produce web PSAs for online distribution. In addition, Safe Kids USA coalitions have conducted youth sports safety clinics throughout the country for parents, coaches, athletes and community members.
The subject will also be explored in an interactive webcast entitled, “Youth Sports Injury – What Every Parent Needs to Know,” on October 27 at 7 p.m. EDT. Pre-registration is required. Speakers include leading experts from the fields of sports medicine, athletic training, pediatrics and child safety. The webcast will be available for future viewing here.
“We are issuing a call to action to parents everywhere to learn more about how they can play an even greater role in preventing youth sports injuries,” said Jamie A. Freishtat, MD, one of the speakers for the webinar and a board-certified pediatrician, safety advocate and blogger for Safe Kids USA. “It’s more than making sure your kids get to and from games and keeping their schedule. It’s about knowing early warning signs, partnering with their coach and making sure you and your kids have the right attitude and realistic expectations about sports.”
Is Your Kid Sports Ready? Pre-Participation Physical Evaluations: Safe Kids USA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend every child receive an annual pre-participation evaluation (PPE), which will help determine his/her readiness to play sports and may uncover underlying conditions that could limit participation or increase the risk for injury or a medical emergency. Parents should talk to their child’s doctor and ask them to perform the full pre-participation evaluation, which was recently updated by the AAP.
Overuse Injuries: Experts say up to 50 percent of all injuries seen in pediatric sports medicine are related to overuse.[iv] An overuse injury is difficult to diagnose and treat because they are usually subtle and occur over time. Fatigue, burnout or playing while injured can lead to sport-related injuries for children including sprains (mostly ankle), muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries and repetitive motion injuries. Warming up and stretching before play is essential to preventing sports related injuries. This helps athletes avoid injuries such as muscle tears or sprains by stretching and releasing any muscle tension.
Concussion: Children who do not wear or use protective equipment are at greater risk of sustaining sports-related injuries. Parents can reduce their child’s risk of minor or serious injuries such as concussions by making sure their child wears the appropriate and properly fitted sports equipment during practice and play and knowing the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
Dehydration/Health Related Illness: Young athletes need to be encouraged to drink water before, during and after practice, and play to prevent dehydration and the risk of heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Athletes should start practice/play fully hydrated, drinking water for every 20 minutes of play.
Safe Kids USA Partners for Prevention
Safe Kids USA is coordinating this national campaign through an alliance and collaboration that spans scientific, medical and health professional, non-profit and corporate organizations across the country. The partners include: The American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pediatrics – Council on Sports Medicine & Fitness, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Optometric Association – Sports Vision Section Council, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johnson & Johnson/DePuy Mitek, LA 84 Foundation, National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), Safe Kids Worldwide, Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group, and the University of Michigan Bone & Joint Injury Prevention & Rehabilitation Center.
About Safe Kids USA
Safe Kids USA is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, comprised of more than 600 Safe Kids coalitions and chapters in 19 countries. Safe Kids Worldwide brings together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families. Founded in 1987 as the National SAFE KIDS Campaign by Children’s National Medical Center with support from Johnson & Johnson, Safe Kids Worldwide is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization located in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.safekids.org.
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[i] Safe Kids USA. Fact Sheet: Sports and Recreation Safety. 2007. Retrieved from: http://www.safekids.org/assets/docs/ourwork/research/sports.pdf.
[ii] National Institutes of Health. Childhood Sports Injuries and Their Prevention: A Guide for Parents With Ideas for Kids. July 2009. Retrieved from: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sports_Injuries/child_sports_injuries.asp.
[iii] The prevention of sport injuries of children and adolescents. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1993 Aug;25(8 Suppl):1-7.
[iv] Brenner, Joel S. Overuse Injuries, Overtraining, and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes. Pediatrics. Vol. 119 No. 6 June 2007, pp. 1242-1245.
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