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Youth Sports: Keeping Kids Safe

5:00 PM, Feb 8, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- The story of Tommy Mallon vividly illustrates how deceiving sports injuries can be.

His mom Beth was on the sidelines photographing the final lacrosse game of his high school career back in 2009.

She says, "He was a defender, collided with another defender, and the collision looked very benign. But Tommy fell to the ground. He had suffered a fractured neck, a serious concussion, and a dissected artery, all in that one benign-looking hit."

Beth Mallon says, fortunately, an athletic trainer was there, and insisted Tommy stay still and down on the field until help arrived. He's doing well now, but it it took a year of grueling rehabilitation to recover.

Beth Mallon now tells other parents, "If you are going to drop off your child at a field or a gym or a pool, you need to know who is on the sidelines in the event of a catastrophic injury."

There is now legislation in 43 states on how concussions in youth sports should be handled.  But a new national action plan unveiled by the Youth Sports Safety Alliance urges schools to have safety measures in place that address not only concussions and neurological injuries, but cardiac events, heat or exertion-related conditions, and problems brought on by performance-enhancing substances or dietary supplements. 

Bob Gfeller is a parent advocate who says,  "What it all boils down to is that you've got to have certified athletic trainers and you've got to have an emergency plan in place."

Bob Gfeller's son Matthew died after a severe helmet-to-helmet collision in his first varsity football game in 2008.  His parents created a foundation in his name. 

Bob Gfeller says,  "We've been working since 2008 to help keep Matthew's spirit alive, and help youth athletes be safe on the field. Football, lacrosse, soccer, you name it. This is a massive movement."

HIGHLIGHTS of National Action Plan for Sports Safety:

ü  Have a comprehensive athletic health care program and a health care team.

ü  Assure safe practice and play facilities that are regularly inspected and cleaned.

ü  Provide an area in which injured athletes may be evaluated and treated and privacy of medical information is assured.

ü  Have a plan for selection, fit and maintenance of athletic equipment.

ü  Adopt injury and illness prevention strategies.

ü  Inform athletes and parents of potential risks in sports as well as individual responsibility.  

ü  Assure that every student athlete has a pre-participation physical examination including cardiac and concussion testing where appropriate.

ü  Provide immediately available, properly trained health care professionals.

ü  Inform parents of the school's emergency policies and procedures.

ü  Provide automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in locations easily and immediately accessible; assure equipment is properly maintained and regularly inspected.

ü  Train coaches and athletic officials in CPR and use of AEDs.

ü  Adopt venue-specific emergency action plans (EAPs) routinely rehearsed with local emergency personnel.

ü  Make coaches, parents and student athletes aware of the potential problems related to the misuse of nutritional supplements, performance enhancement substances and energy drinks.

ü  Make school personnel aware of the psychosocial problems of student athletes and assure referral to qualified healthcare professionals as appropriate.

ü  Use established protocols for heat acclimatization, lightning, poor air quality and other environmental factors.

 

 

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