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Youth Sports Injuries Reaching Epidemic Levels, Experts Report
Date:12/7/2010

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Youth sports injuries have become rampant in the United States, with emergency departments treating more than 8,000 children a day for sports-related injuries, safety experts reported Tuesday.

As more children play school sports and in organized leagues, they are suffering an ever-increasing number of injuries, the experts from the National Athletic Trainers' Association said in presenting their grim picture at a conference in Washington D.C.

Statistics released by the organization also revealed that:

  • Forty-eight youths died as the result of sports injuries in the past year.
  • About 63,000 high school athletes suffer brain injuries every year.
  • High school athletes suffer 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers led the association to issue a national report card on youth sport safety, giving the nation a C- for 2010.

"This is a neglected population in terms of focusing on health and safety during sports participation," said Marjorie J. Albohm, president of the 30,000-member organization. "The numbers of young people far outweigh the numbers of elite or professional athletes, yet we haven't given them the attention they deserve in terms of health and safety."

Sudden cardiac arrest accounted for nearly half the deaths in the last year, while concussion accounted for three, heat illness three, and exertional sickling (a result of sickle cell trait, causing collapse due to muscle breakdown) caused one, according to the organization.

"Most coaches don't really understand sickle cell and what can happen," explained Brian Robinson, head athletic trainer at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Ill. "What you see is similar to heat stroke symptoms, but it can happen a lot faster.
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