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Posted at 11:35 AM ET, 11/10/2009

How many injuries before kids should hang up their cleats?

By Valerie Strauss

How many concussions would you allow your child to suffer before you decided that perhaps he or she should retire from the travel soccer team?

In the past month alone I have heard about several dozen injuries to young athletes, both on school and athletic teams, and I am starting to wonder how so many families can be obsessed with sports to the point that a child’s health suffers.

I’ve actually heard parents talk about their children’s soccer concussions as if they are a simple headaches: “He had another concussion last week but should be good to go soon.” I know one child who has suffered at least three breaks in his hands from high school football and baseball. His parents know there could be long-term health consequences, but that is less important, somehow, than the glory of youth sports.

There is a story in today’s Post about companies that have redesigned football helmets to cut down on concussions.

It protrays a college football player who suffered three blows on the field in a 12-month period, which left him “in a state of total confusion.”

Why it took until 2009 for companies to make better football helmets for kids is a question perhaps someone else can answer.

But the number of injuries is staggering: The National Center for Sports Safety cites these statistics:

*More than 3.5 million children aged 14 and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year.

*Injuries associated with participation in sports and recreational activities account for 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States.

*Overuse injury, which occurs over time from repeated motion, is responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle-and high-school students. Immature bones, insufficient rest after an injury and poor training or conditioning contribute to overuse injuries among children.

*Most organized sports related injuries (62 percent) occur during practices rather than games. Despite this fact, a third of parents often do not take the same safety precautions during their child’s practices as they would for a game.

*A recent survey found that among athletes ages 5 to 14, 15 percent of basketball players, 28 percent of football players, 22 percent of soccer players, 25 percent of baseball players and 12 percent of softball players have been injured while playing their respective sports.

So I ask you, at what number in the injury count do you consider telling your child that there are better ways to get exercise?

By Valerie Strauss  | November 10, 2009; 11:35 AM ET
Tags:  youth sports injuries  
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I apologize if I have misinterpreted the column but I couldn't help but read it in a hysterical, condescending tone.

There is no hard and fast number that someone can tell you is the threshold to pull your child out of a sport. It depends on the severity of the injuries, the likelihood and frequency that they will happen again, the consequences of the injury and your child's reaction @ being pulled. OMG you might have to use parental judgment!

To dissemble a bit:How can you tell your child there are better ways to get exercise when you are worried about repetitive motion injuries? Honestly, come on. Walking, running, table tennis, even video games can cause repetitive motion injuries. It is your job as a parent to monitor your child, along with the coach, to ensure that overstress is avoided.

"Why it took until 2009 for companies to make better football helmets for kids is a question perhaps someone else can answer."
A: It didn't. Football started without helmets, kids died, helmets were introduced. People broke to many noses and lost to many teeth, face bars were introduced. The padding has changed radically over time, from hard foam to air bladders to the disk system discussed in today's article. The rules of the game have changed over time as well. The evolution of equipment is ongoing. Look at running. In my fathers day people ran in converse all stars. Now I run with @ least .5 in of padding between my feet and the ground.

The value people put on their sports activity is their own. The important thing is that parents aren't forcing their children to do something they don't want to do. Rather than spending time looking down her nose @ parents that choose to allow their children to participate in organized sports Ms. Strauss could be helping them make more informed decisions.

Some Examples:
New Cleats Every Year, 2 weeks before the practice starts so that they can be broken in. This decreases the chance of blisters.

Start light training with your child before the practice season starts. (Throwing/kicking the ball or light jogs are a good idea) This will help condition their bodies to the exercise they are about to do.

Emphasize the importance of stretching. Yes stretching. Often overlooked.

Ease out of the season as well as into it. This will allow your child to adapt to a change in their exercise routine much easier.

Monitor what they do as much as you can. No one can have 24/7 control but ask what they're going to do and what they did. It will help you make informed training decisions.

Posted by: Bulldeazy | November 10, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

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