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Published on Jan 16, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Kids' Sports Are More Competitive and Concussions Are More Common

football-game

I'm a huge Pens fan, so watching Sidney Crosby get sidelined due to concussion symptoms is tough. It's difficult seeing someone so young and so talented suffer such a serious injury. Even though as a fan I'd like to see him back on the ice, I'm happy that he is putting his health above the sport.

The risks of head injuries and concussions have recently become the focus of national attention as professional sports leagues have strengthened their safety policies. In 2010, the NFL instituted new rules about helmet-to-helmet hits, the NBA just implemented new concussion treatment guidelines, and Sidney Crosby's struggle with concussions over the past year put the NHL in the spotlight.

As a parent and grandparent, I was happy to learn that Pennsylvania's State Senate recently passed new legislation aimed at protecting young athletes from brain injuries. Student athletes in colleges, high schools, and even middle schools around the country are experiencing an increase in sports-related concussions. In fact, even though participation in the country's most popular sports (ice hockey, football, soccer, basketball and baseball) declined from 1997 to 2007, concussions nearly doubled during that time. Medical experts think that it's due to increased awareness of concussion symptoms and because sports have gotten more competitive at younger ages.

While recovery time varies from player to player, it appears that children and teens may feel the effects of a head injury much longer than adults because their brains have not fully matured. KidsHealth.org has really good information on concussions, including the signs and symptoms to look for and prevention tips: KidsHealth on Concussions.

I know how intensely competitive sports are these days, even among the youngest age groups. Many coaches, parents, and kids want to be "champions," and unfortunately, this sometimes means that kids play through injuries when they shouldn't. It can be hard to say no to your child when all your child wants to do is get back on the field or court with their team, but their health and safety might depend on it.

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