Can Sports Injuries Be Prevented?

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It's likely that you or a teammate has succumbed to an injury during a practice or game. Very few athletes make it through a career without a trip to the disabled list.

When competing at a high level, athletes can suffer injury in a variety of ways: an accidental collision in practice [what caused the broken leg suffered by  Jets DB Jim Leonhard], a vicious tackle, an illegal play or even improper equipment.

The National Athletic Training Association [NATA], an organization at the forefront of injury prevention and awareness, presents some eye-opening statistics:

  • Approximately 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each day for sports-related injuries.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1.6 million and 3.8 million brain injuries occur in sports each year—and 63,000 are suffered by high school athletes.
  • The CDC reports that high school athletes suffer two million injuries, make 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospital admissions each year.
  • High school athletes suffer three times as many catastrophic football injuries as college athletes.
  • Only 42 percent of high schools have access to athletic training services.
  • In the U.S., 47 percent of schools fall short of the federally recommended nurse-to-student ratio, and many schools have no nurse at all.
  • 50 percent of "second impact syndrome" incidents—e.g., brain injuries caused by a premature return to activity after suffering a concussion—result in death.
  • Female high school soccer athletes suffer almost 40 percent more concussions than males [29,000 annually].
  • Female high school basketball players suffer 240 percent more concussions than males [13,000 annually].
  • 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practices.

NATA recognizes that it's impossible to eliminate injuries outright; however, they saw serious flaws in the system that produced these astounding statistics. So, they organized the Youth Sports Safety Alliance [YSSA] with the goal of reducing the frequency of injuries and helping to diminish their severity.

The YSSA is taking a multi-faceted approach to the problem—communicating with lawmakers to increase funding for sports injury research and to enact  laws regulating medical testing for young athletes; creating guidelines for equipment, types of  game surfaces and proper injury response; and educating coaches, parents and athletes on how to prevent and treat injuries.

Overall, the YSSA's call to action should make athletes more aware of the different types of injuries that can occur and standardize medical responses so that treatments are the same at every playing facility.

For more information on the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, visit

Source:  National Athletic Training Associaiton

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