Keeping youth sports safe

Aside from the physical benefits, youth sports are an effective means of shaping a child’s work habits and character. Approximately 30 million children under the age of 14 participate in organized youth sports throughout the United States. The problem is that many of these activities are unsafe.

The statistics are staggering:

• Approximately 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each day for sports-related injuries
• 62% of injuries occur during practices
• There are five times as many catastrophic football injuries in high school athletes as opposed to college athletes
• Cardiac and neurological injuries account for the predominance of sports related deaths.

The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and the Connecticut Athletic Trainers Association (CATA) are diligently trying to make youth sports safer. The NATA has assembled an alliance of medical organizations to address the issues surrounding youth sports safety at a summit meeting.

Locally, the CATA has been politically active in promoting legislation requiring automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to be available at all high school sporting events. They are currently spearheading legislation regarding sports concussion management in Connecticut high school athletes.

“Pre-high school youth sports programs often do not provide adequate medical coverage,” said Vicky Graham, a certified athletic trainer and president-elect of the CATA. Personnel trained in first aid and CPR should be available at every youth sports league game and practice.

Commotio cordis, a fatal heart arrhythmia from direct trauma, is most commonly seen in lacrosse, hockey and baseball. AEDs should be required at all of these youth programs.

As youth sports programs schedule rules and coaching clinics in preparation for their season, a clinic on sports safety is imperative. These can be arranged by contacting the CATA at

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