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Playing It Safe With High School Sports
Date:7/3/2008

Coaches, trainers focus on prevention, better treatment for young athletes,,,,

THURSDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- "Getting your bell rung." "A dinger." "Knocking the cobwebs loose."

Shop-worn sports cliches for a serious problem -- a concussion.

But new research suggests that high school football coaches are getting a lot better at spotting a concussion and managing the problem, although there's still room for improvement.

"Our knowledge about concussions is expanding rapidly. The traditional idea was that 'getting a bell rung' was not serious, but those symptoms can be a sign of a concussion and need to be evaluated," said Steve Broglio, assistant professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who studies concussions in high school athletes.

Each year, more than seven million high school students participate in interscholastic sports in the United States, and there are approximately 1.4 million sports injuries, according to a 2006 national sports injury survey.

The good news is that injury rates have dropped by half in the last decade as sports medicine techniques have improved, along with a growing awareness of the importance of preventing and treating injuries, said Dawn Comstock, an assistant professor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. She administers the survey, which tracks sports-related injuries at 100 high schools throughout the country.

But the injuries being reported today are more serious. "There are more fractures, severe knee injuries, and the proportion of injuries requiring surgery is higher," she said.

This could be due to a jump in chronic overuse problems -- more young athletes are playing one sport year-round, using the same muscle groups over and over. But the increase could also be due to improved sports medicine techniques, which means earlier diagnosis and treatment of many injuries b
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