There's nothing quite like the excitement of watching your kid score a goal, a basket or a home run – or like the agony of watching them get hurt on the field. With more kids participating in sports than ever before, there's growing concern about youth sports injuries.
At the top of the list of parents' concerns: concussions. The brains of children are rapidly growing, and it's a critical time for brain development. Research indicates that children who experience repeated blows to the head – even if the hits don't result in concussions – are more likely to experience memory and brain functioning problems at an early age.
To break down that concerning news, we address some of parents' top questions about concussions and youth sports:
Collision sports like tackle football, rugby, lacrosse, hockey with checking and full-contact martial arts make head injuries more likely since every practice and game requires aggressive contact.
Also risky: Soccer. Heading the ball and player collisions contribute to the sport's higher concussion rate.
Physical activity is healthy and beneficial for kids. Childhood obesity remains one of the most serious health issues affecting children in the U.S., putting kids at risk for many health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Playing sports can be a fun way to exercise and helps kids stay physically fit. Plus, team sports can build a child's character and help develop critical social skills.
Your child can still enjoy the thrill of the game while staying safe. Consider these options for decreasing the chance of head trauma in youth sports:
After a head injury, your child may experience immediate signs of a concussion, but symptoms may also appear hours or days later. Some common symptoms include:
For more details, see the full list of possible concussion symptoms.
If you suspect a concussion, it's essential for your child to see a doctor before playing sports again. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommend that children sit out during a game if there’s any chance of a concussion. Talk to your child's pediatrician about appropriate next steps.
A concussion can be a serious, but invisible injury. Get the facts about the health implications, warning signs and treatment plans. Download our free concussion guide.