Youth Sports Injuries and Football Brain Injuries Look To Tougher Safety After Fatalities and Brain Injuries Continue In High School Sports
Even before the High School Football season officially began, new concerns have been raised as youth sports saw it’s first victim. Concerns over youth sports injuries heightened when a 16-year-old football player died after suffering a brain injury on the football field. The teen’s death is a concern to many since 17 high school football players died in 2015, according to statistics from the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research (NCCSIR), which compiles data on football injuries and death. Seven deaths were directly due to football and all but one occurred in regularly scheduled games. The majority of those deaths, 71.5 percent, were due to tackling or being tackled and being blocked. The 10 indirect youth sports related deaths were due to heat stroke, cardiac conditions, and other complications.
[usnews.com/news/articles/2016-08-11/sudden-death-the-mysterious-brain-injury-killing-young-football-players, U.S.News, August 11, 2016]
[nccsir.unc.edu/files/2013/10/Annual-Football-2015-Fatalities-FINAL.pdf, NCCSIR, 2015]
There are three times as many catastrophic football injuries among high school athletes as college athletes, according to statistics from the Youth Sports Safety Alliance (YSSA). The injuries sustained are usually concussions, neck and spinal injuries. Football is associated with the highest number of cervical spine injuries of any sport, the YSSA reports. Overall, about 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each day for sports-related injuries.
Non-traumatic deaths in sports are preventable, according to Dr. Doug Casa, chief executive officer of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut, which researches sudden death in sports. Dr. Casa suggests that schools have athletic trainers, which are highly trained medical personnel, at all practices and games. Athletic officials must also make sure students are in proper physical condition to play, and coaches are properly trained, especially for emergencies. Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee is heeding that advice. Athletic officials told WREG News Channel 3 that their coaches are preparing action plans in case of medical emergencies this year.
[wreg.com/2016/07/28/school-medical-professionals-prepare-for-possible-fall-sports-injuries/, WREG-TV, July 28, 2016]
In recent years, parents have been filing wrongful death lawsuits over their child’s death. For instance, a wrongful death suit was filed by the parents of a 16-year-old high school varsity football player who died of a heart attack during a training session in 2014. The New York parents allege that their son would not have died had a defibrillator been available and the first responding ambulance crew were better prepared to handle the emergency. In a similar lawsuit, parents of a 16-year-old Brocton, New York, football player filed a lawsuit after their son died of a brain injury in 2013.
NCCSIR Safety Recommendations To Avoid Football Injuries
In an attempt to prevent tragic football accidents, the NCCSIR recommends:
• Athletes pass mandatory medical exams and medical history before being allowed to play football
• Proper physical conditioning should be emphasized
• Emergency measures be in place for all games and practice sessions.
• Safety measures should be put in place related to physical activity in hot weather.
• Each institution should strive to have a certified athletic trainer.
The NCCSIR further recommends that sports officials strictly enforce all game rules and administrative regulations. Coaches and school officials should also support game officials during the games.