A study conducted by the Cincinnati, Ohio Children’s Hospital Medical Center shows a dramatic increase in the amount of sports-related brain injuries (TBI) in children over the past few years.
Over a period of 9 years between 2002 and 2011, hospital emergency physicians studied over 3,800 teens and children with sports-related injuries. Sports-related traumatic brain injuries in children, such as concussions, increased by 92 percent over the course of the study. Other study data concurs with the sports injury data from the Ohio hospital study; according to the Center for Disease Control, over half a million children visit the emergency room each year as a result of TBI. Sports like football, skating, and baseball are all major contributors to TBI in children as well as many other sports injuries, including sprains, bone fractures, and torn ligaments. (Dallas News, October 8, 2013. http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/health-and-fitness/columnists/dr-jane-sadler/20131007-dr.-jane-sadler-kids-and-sports-how-much-is-too-much.ece)
Traumatic Brain Injuries in Children Sports
According to the CDC, children playing football and baseball see the most traumatic sports injuries each year. An injury is considered traumatic if it results in temporary or permanent disablement or impairment in normal brain function. Football players see injuries ranging from sprains to concussions, and in baseball; the risk of a baseball hitting a player’s head is high, and one of the most dangerous risks of the sport.
Parents strike back against sports equipment manufacturers
Parents and schools are doing what they can to protect children from injuries. One Long Island middle school recently banned the use of sports balls during school recess in a quest to keep children safe. Other families of injured children are fighting back through the courts by filing suits against sports equipment manufacturers.
In 2007, a New York high school senior had his vertebra shattered after a player snapped his head backward and was awarded an $8 million settlement from the school. A New Jersey teenager, Steven Domalewski, received a settlement of $14.5 million from bat manufacturer Hillerich and Bradsby after he was left brain dead after a ball hit by a Hillerich and Bradsby bat struck him in the head in 2006. In a similar case, teen baseball player, Cole Schlesner, suffered a skull fracture after he was struck by a baseball hit with an Easton BT265 bat during a Cincinnati Stix game in 2009. (Lowell Sun, September 25, 2013 http://www.lowellsun.com/sports/ci_24176009/baseball-bat-company-sued-by-by-victim-skull) (October 8, 2013 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/08/long-island-ball-ban_n_4065353.html) (December, 2010 http://www.athleticbusiness.com/articles/article.aspx?articleid=3666&zoneid=33) (August 23, 2012 http://espn.go.com/new-york/story/_/id/8292542/stephen-domalewski-left-brain-injury-settles-metal-bat-suit)
Current children’s sports regulations
Current regulations and laws are designed to keep sport-playing children safe on the field. For example, all baseball bats are required to be BBCOR certified by the manufacturer, which helps control the weight and swing of the bat to reduce TBI risk. Despite these regulations, many states do not believe they are enough to reduce the risk of children’s aluminum bat injuries. Several states have cracked down on the use of aluminum baseball bats, including New Mexico, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. California currently has pending aluminum bat legislation.
Existing football regulations may also not provide enough safety for children. The NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) states that football players cannot play without helmets and padding, which is intended to reduce children’s sports injuries on the football field across the country. New York, however, thought the restrictions too lenient. In 2011, New York pushed for legislation calling for improved helmet rules for high school football players to reduce their risk of TBIs and other sports injuries. These additional rulings are hoped to keep children free from TIB injuries while on the football field. (April, 2012
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1149406-take-me-out-on-a-stretcher-the-case-against-aluminum-bats-in-baseball) (July, 2013 http://www.nfhs.org/content.aspx?id=9418) (December 22, 2011 http://www.nycfuturedocs.com/future-of-healthcare/schumer-pushes-legislation-to-improve-high-school-football-helmet-safety-standards/)