MONDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- With another season of
warm-weather sports under way, experts are cautioning that many
parents don't take sports injury prevention seriously enough --
that they consider commonplace sprains, bruises and pulled muscles
"just part of the game."
About 10 percent of the 38 million American kids participating
in sports each year are treated for a sports-related injury, but
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that
about half these injuries are preventable.
Nonetheless, in a recent national survey sponsored by Safe Kids
USA and Johnson & Johnson, 86 percent of the parents surveyed
said their child's injury was "just part of the game" and probably
would have happened anyway.
The national telephone survey of 751 mothers and fathers who had
at least one child aged 5 to 14 playing popular sports found
parents generally expressed little concern about the number of
potential injuries their kids could sustain playing team sports,
with only concussions and dehydration causing "a great deal" or
"quite a bit" of worry.
The most prevalent injuries -- sprains, pulled muscles, bruises,
broken bones and lacerations -- caused little consternation in the
And only 9 percent of fathers polled were likely to say the
injury could have been prevented, compared to 17 percent of the
The survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of
Safe Kids USA, also revealed that about 25 percent more children
participate in two or more team sports compared to a decade ago,
with nearly a third playing multiple sports in a single season.
The survey was a follow-up to similar research done in 2000 that
studied parents' knowledge, attitudes and behaviors on youth sports
"The numbers are telling," Kyle Johnson, director of communications and marketing for Safe Kids Worldwide, said at Monday news conference unveiling the survey's results. "About 40 percent of traumatic brain injuries to kids are sports-related ... and the direct medical costs are about $11 billion annually."
Children involved in team sports spend an average of 7.4 hours
each week practicing or playing in games, with boys spending about
20 percent more time than girls, and 10- to 14-year-olds spending
significantly more time than 5- to 9-year-olds.
Surveyed sports included football, soccer, field hockey,
basketball, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, baseball, softball
One of the easiest problems to prevent is dehydration, said
Tanya Chin Ross, director of public policy for Safe Kids USA.
"It's very important that parents and coaches don't wait until a child says they're thirsty," Ross said, noting that young athletes should drink several ounces of water or sports drinks every 30 minutes.
The survey also found parents and coaches more knowledgeable
about injuries and prevention than a decade ago, although it did
reveal wide gaps. For example, most parents believe coaches should
be well-informed about injury prevention, but at the same time only
29 percent believe their kids' coaches actually have that
Still, parents appear to know somewhat more about sports
injuries than a decade ago, with 61 percent (vs. 51 percent in
2000) recognizing that more injuries occur during practices than
games. Children, coaches and parents are also more likely to take
multiple precautions to minimize injuries than they were 11 years
ago, the study found.
However, the number of young athletes sustaining multiple
injuries in team sports has increased to nearly 1.5 times the 2000
levels, a rise due almost entirely to higher rates of injuries
among 10- to 14-year-old girls. Girls in this age group are now
being injured at a rate equal to boys of the same age, the survey
Lack of knowledge and concern about overuse injuries was also
prevalent, the survey found.
Experts speaking at the Safe Kids news conference said the
survey didn't explain the jump in injuries among pre-adolescent
girls. But, other research indicates females in this age group are
four times to eight times more likely than boys to tear the
anterior cruciate ligament in their knee, which is essential to
"This is an area that bears much more research," said Angela Mickalide, director of research and programs for Safe Kids Worldwide. "We really must do more to stop this trend."
Nearly all parents surveyed felt organized team sports provide
positive experiences for their children, and 31 percent said
learning values such as teamwork and sportsmanship was the most
Mickalide cautioned, however, that parents should not place
undue pressure on their children to succeed in sports, noting that
less than 1 percent of kids ever advance to the professional
To learn more about children and sports safety, visit the
U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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