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Safety Gear a Must to Prevent Kids' Sports Injuries

Concussion most common danger, expert says, so head, face gear should take priority

SUNDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Children who play school sports need to wear proper safety gear to reduce their risk of injuries, emphasizes the director of sports medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Dr. Jon Divine recommends the following equipment for young athletes:

  • Mouth guards protect the mouth, teeth, cheeks and tongue by cushioning blows that cause lost or broken teeth, concussions or jaw fractures. Mouth guards should be worn for all contact and collision sports.
  • Face guards and face protectors (polycarbonate lenses) prevent tens of thousands of injuries each year in contact/collision sports such as hockey and football.
  • Shin guards protect soccer players from shin contusions. Parents need to make sure their children's shin guards fit well. Rapidly growing children may require new shin guards each year.
  • Helmets should be worn in sports such as football, baseball or softball to prevent concussion and other serious head injuries.

Concussion is the most common type of sports-related brain injury, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 300,000 sports-related concussions occur each year in the United States.

"If a young athlete comes off the field after a blow to the head in any sport feeling dizzy, faint or has a lapse in memory, it's vital that they tell their coach or a team trainer. Equally as important, coaches, trainers and parents need to be observant of head injury symptoms, because athletes may not report them," Divine said in a Cincinnati Children's news release.

"But of utmost importance, athletes younger than 18 who have any post-blow-to-the-head symptoms affecting their thought process should not return to the same practice, game or contest and be evaluated be a physician prior to return to play," said Divine, who directs the concussion clinic at Cincinnati Children's.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers children advice on how to prevent sports injuries.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, news release, August 2008

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