*The following is excerpted from an online article from Today.
A new study by national research group Safe Kids Worldwide may help explain why one child is taken to the emergency room for a sports injury every 25 seconds. The study's results show that young athletes are engaged in a dangerous culture comprised of ignoring sports injuries, and feeling pressure to play even when they're hurt.
The study, which surveyed 3,000 athletes, coaches and parents, found that:
- 42 percent of kids said that they have downplayed or hidden injuries so that they could keep playing.
- 53 percent of coaches said they've felt pressure to put injured players back in the game.
- Almost 1/3 of kids surveyed said it's "normal" to play rough in a game, to "send a message" to the other team.
While this problem in youth sports has been well-publicized, this new research found that many young athletes are still putting themselves at unnecessary risk.
"The awareness we have about injuries and the risk to our children is not matching the behavior that we're seeing on the field," said Kate Carr, president of Safe Kids Worldwide.
There are very serious risks for athletes who continue playing with a head injury.
"If kids return to play too soon after a concussion or a head injury, they're at risk for second impact syndrome, which is a really serious brain injury," said Dr. Tracy Zaslow, a sports medicine physician at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
All 50 states now require young athletes to be pulled from play if a concussion is suspected, and many have restricted contact in youth sports practices. Sports associations say they're training coaches to resist pressure to play injured athletes, and the High School Coaching Association is pushing for new laws that would require medical personnel at all youth sports games.