It’s usually around this time of year that Family Practice Specialists spend quite a lot of time talking about youth sports, particularly football and concussions. As Phoenix physicians, we are keenly aware of the benefits of team sports, while simultaneously understanding like few others the risks of team sports. Yesterday, news broke of the National Football League’s settlement of $765 million to thousands of players who had sued over head injuries. With this news comes increased awareness on the importance of keeping your child safe as they play the game of football.
According to Today.com, Pop Warner, the largest and oldest youth football organization in the U.S., has seen the number of youth players – close to 250,000 – remain steady from 2011 to 2012, according to Josh Pruce, national director of media relations at Pop Warner headquarters in Langhorne, Penn.
Avoiding Head Injuries
As the parent of a child who plays football, or as a coach, there are steps that can be taken to avoid head injuries. In fact, as we’ve mentioned before, many Pop Warner organizations around the nation are members of the NFL’s Heads Up program, which teaches the skills necessary to coach proper tackling, and to be on notice for concussions and head injuries.
As Phoenix physicians, and parents ourselves, we want to provide our patients and parents with tips – steps that you can take to help your child avoid head injuries while on and off the field.
- Heads Up Football – Ask your coach if your youth football league participates in the NFL’s Heads Up program. This program requires all coaches to attend hours of training on correct tackling forms to avoid a concussion, as well as the signs of a concussion.
- Wear a Helmet – This doesn’t just apply to playing football. Children, and adults, should always wear a helmet when riding their bikes, scooters, skateboarding, or even skiing. As a Phoenix doctor, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen kids come in with small bumps and bruises from bike and scooter falls. These small bumps and bruises can lead to far worse.
- Wear Seatbelts – Wearing a seatbelt, even when your making a quick run to the store down the block, is crucial. In many states it’s the law, and for good reason. Even the slightest tap of the brakes can send a small child falling forward. This is a recipe for disaster and head injuries.
- Falls at Home – Kids fall down; it’s a fact of life. Either from wrestling, jumping off of the couch, or simply tripping over their own feet, children will always find a way to the floor. However, as a Phoenix doctor there are some steps that you can take to avoid those dangerous falls. Set the rules and make sure your child knows that jumping off the couch, climbing onto the counters, and other unsafe activities are simply not allowed. Remove tripping hazards – keep toys picked up after play.
- Watch Your Kids Around Water – You might not consider the pool a place for common head injuries, but as a Phoenix doctor we have seen many instances where children slip, dive too deep, or simply don’t jump out far enough and end up with damaging injuries. We can’t stress this enough – watch your children around water. Teach them how to jump away from the side safely. Teach them how to walk near the pool where surfaces might be slippery.
There are a myriad of steps that you can take, as a parent, to prevent head injuries both on and off the field. If you think your child might have taken a bad hit, made a bad tackle, or fallen hard on their head, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Family Practice Specialists immediately.