New research on how young athletes should be treated for concussions on and off the field is welcome news for both parents and coaches.
Dr. Stanley Herring, director of the University of Washington Sports Health and Safety Institute, says exercise is essential to a child’s long-term health. The concussion protocols published last month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine are designed to keep athletes as safe as possible and all youth sports programs should adopt them. But parents also need to keep their kids active.
Physical illness related to inactivity is more likely to result in premature death than sports-related concussions. Physical activity also combats depression and enhances psychological well-being and may improve academic performance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 60 million children, ages 6 to 18, participate in organized sports worldwide, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Between 2004 and 2009, there were 24 sport-related deaths in high school athletes, some of which were related to traumatic brain injuries.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends youth, aged 6 to 17, get an hour of physical activity each day.
It’s important to balance the risk of playing sports with the lifelong benefit of exercise.