One of the most common questions that I am asked, as a school nurse, is how can sports related injuries, concussions in particular, be prevented? With every generation it seems that level of play and competition has increased, resulting in more injuries. Are
these injuries and concussions happening more frequently or have we become more adept at diagnosing them? With about 46.5 million children participating in sports in the United States, it is estimated that there are approximately 3.8 million concussions that occur every year; however only 1 out of 6 will be formally diagnosed and treated, so we clearly still have a long way to go.
It is common knowledge that frequent injuries and concussions occur in high risk sports, such as soccer and football, but they can occur anywhere and you may be surprised at how gentle of a hit to the head can result in a concussion and injury. You add to that the increase in our young athletes' level of play and skill set, growth spurts causing muscles and ligaments to stretch to the point of injury, and it makes sense why we seem to have an increase in sports related injuries and concussions. It may surprise you to know that approximately 60% of all injuries occur during practice and the most common injuries are muscle sprains and tears, growth plate fractures and heat related illness. Here are some things that can be done to prevent these injuries and concussions.