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

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Robinson, who is also chairman of the association's Secondary School Committee, called the youth sports injury situation a "public health issue," because of the long-term ramifications of many of the injuries that kids suffer while playing sports.

For example, knee injuries, which are very common, can lead to arthritis later in life, according to Albohm. "An injury that a 14- or 16-year-old suffers can affect them for the rest of their lives," she noted.

The association created the Youth Sports Alliance, along with about 40 other health and sports organizations, to push for legislation, and to educate coaches and others involved in youth sports to prevent injuries and provide appropriate medical services to injured athletes.

Additional data provided at the conference showed that:

  • High school athletes suffer three times as many serious injuries as college athletes each year.
  • Female high school basketball players sustain 240 percent more concussions than their male peers (13,000 annually)
  • Sixteen percent of football players who lose consciousness after brain injuries return to play the same day.

Professional sports organizations such as Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association typically have several athletic trainers working with other health-care professionals to determine whether an injured player can return to action or still needs medical attention. Most colleges and universities also have athletic trainers at sports events, said Albohm.

But below the college level, decisions about returning to play are made by coaches, who face pressure to win, Albohm explained.

"Coaches shouldn't be making these decisions. It's not their job to be health-care professionals," said Albohm.

The association has worked since its inception to change what it sees as an often-stoic attitude toward injuries in athletics, Albohm added.

"We have b
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