Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Preventing Injuries for Kids and the Pros: Evolution and the NFL

Children often get involved early in sports teams as a way to stay healthy and have fun with their peers. Sports like football also teach personal perseverance, strength, physical training and strategy. There's also a lot of risk for kids playing any contact sport. It can be dangerous. As a parent, seeing kids play sports is so much fun and exhilarating. The National Football League has seen the effects of contact sports time and time again on kids, including serious injuries. However, in recent years, they have cracked down to help improve the safety of players and the game of football itself. Big hit injuries are the most dangerous. These can cause concussions, broken bones, ligament tears and many other types of injuries. 

With the creation of these new rules and regulations, everything has changed with football. How you hit a defenseless player, hits on quarterbacks during passing, hits on receivers catching and players in the grapple of a tackle. In addition, the rules specify what players can and can't do on the field, such as grabbing another player's helmet and defensive players cannot tackle quarterbacks under the knee.

In addition to these rules, the NFL has recognized that these hits and injuries also occur in the sports that our children play as well. The NFL has come out with a youth-inspired campaign called NFL Evolution, which teaches about how hits can injure others and educatesways in which coaches and players can protect each other. As a parent, it is great to see organizations such as the NFL being pro active in not only trying to protect their players but also our children who participate in these sports as well. 

Some injuries that are very common in contact sports are:


Concussions occur when the head hits or has been hit by another object.  Concussions often happen in football from big hits. Headaches, dizziness, nausea and other serious symptoms are indicative of a concussion. Memory loss and hearing loss are both very serious side effects of a concussion.  The NFL Players Association has also partnered with a hearingaid supplier, EarQ.  Due to the strong correlation between hearing loss and head injuries, the partnership has come together to help educate players and parents on the issue of hearing loss and how it pertains to athletes.  This will hopefully make players aware of the dangers of contact sports while educating parents on the ways in which they can help protect their children from hearing loss issues.  There are some things that you can do or your child can do to prevent against concussions.

- Wear protective headgear at all times, whether playing hockey, baseball, lacrosse, football or other contact sport.
- Headgear needs to be the right size and fit the head properly.
- Parents and coaches need to instruct kids on how to properly hit other players with their bodies, not their heads.
- If a child experiences any blows to the head, have a family physician do a check up and make sure a concussion has not occurred.   
- Never allow kids to return to sports until they are ready, approved by a doctor and completely healed.

Ligament Tears

Sports injuries span all kinds of muscles, bones and tendons. The kneeis an especially vulnerable part of the body. ACL tears are some of the scariest injuries because they are a common injury among professional athletes. An ACL injury is an important ligament that practically holds the knee together and it's used in every movement, from running to jumping. You simply can't play any contact sport if you have an ACL injury. To prevent against these types of ligament tears, make sure that kids know these tips.

- Do specific drills that teach power, balance and agility.
- Complete strength training that focuses on the knees along with the muscles on the leg. This will help to protect the knee and also lessen the chance that an injury will tear the ACL.
- Stretch before rigorous training by doing warm up exercises and light jogging. You should always stretch before and after a hard work out or training session.
- Contact a physician for any problems related to your knees. Many athletes don't report an injury until it gets much worse.

Heat Related Injuries

During rather hot months, other injuries can be common, such as dehydration and heat stroke. When playing outside, kids have to be hydrated and given rest breaks in the shade. These injuries are completely preventable, so pay attention to what's going on and inform kids to speak up when they are experiencing any symptoms related to serious heat injuries.

- Drink lots of water. They should be drinking water many times before the game or practice, as well as during and after.
- Sports drinks can also be a good substitute for water but should be used more for game time.
- Choose lighter clothing when training outdoors in the heat.
- Put on sunscreen when going under the sun for long periods of time.
- Do not exercise in mid-day sun or hotter points of the day.

Remember that sports are fun and most injuries are preventable. The NFL is working hard to make sure that parents are informed as well as kids. The best thing to do is to be pro active and pay attention to what we can do to help kids have the best experience possible while playing contact sports. 

Guest post submitted by John O'Connor. John is a father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Check out his new blog at!

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