How can we prevent brain injuries in youth sports?

Over the last few years, the concern over concussions caused by sports injuries has increased at an alarming rate across the country. Parents worry that their young children are in jeopardy of sustaining permanent brain damage during the most critical period of brain development.

So, how can we prevent these dangerous injuries?

First, know what sports place youths at the highest risk of a head injury

Researchers have determined that young people face a 100% risk of suffering head injuries and potential brain damage if they participate in high-impact and high-contact sports, including, but not limited to:

  • Cycling
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Hockey

While most parents believe youth football to be the culprit, bicycling actually leads more children under the age of 14 to seek medical attention for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

Then, know the rules

Once parents identify the sports that place their children at the highest risk, then they can help to ensure that:

  • Their children wear the proper safety equipment: Every sport has different protective gear, from helmets to knee pads and even mouth guards. Parents can work with their child’s coach to ensure they obtain the proper gear and also make sure their child wears the gear correctly.
  • They know the rules of the game: Most sports have penalties for athletes who engage in dangerous behavior. However, coaches and other officials must enforce these rules to keep all athletes safe. After all, the rules exist for a reason.

Serious disregard of the rules, including violence, are often the only circumstances that allow individuals to seek compensation for a sports injury. That is why it is critical to keep children safe.

Could a new California law create a nationwide trend?

Tennessee does have a sports concussion law to help reduce TBIs and other head injuries in youth sports. It focuses on increasing awareness of these injuries and requiring medical attention for any sign of a concussion.

However, many people believe that the entire culture surrounding youth sports-and even professional sports-must change to keep our children safe. That conclusion has led lawmakers in California to pass a controversial law that established limits on youth football to:

  • Create different safety standards
  • Restrict contact in football practice
  • Track and report injuries more efficiently

The law is dedicated to “safety-at-all-costs,” but it has created quite a stir among some sports fans. It has also raised the question: will laws really help make sports safer?

We have yet to see how this law in California will work. However, it is possible that laws like this one can increase the liability for those who do not comply with the law. And we will see whether or not this California law will influence other states, including Tennessee, in the future.

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