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The Often-Ignored Injury Risk of High School Sports

Sports are a popular pastime for many high school students, and many want to take their craft and continue it even beyond their graduation into college with some aspiring to even become professionals. While youth sports years may be fun and recreational, high school sports often take an approach that’s far more competitive as students push themselves to be the best and fight for the pride and glory of their school and their peers.

Because of this competitive nature, high school sports often face a significantly higher risk of injury, particularly those on the varsity level. However, while sports themselves have always presented this risk, one injury in particular isn’t given nearly enough attention for how detrimental the consequences of sustaining it can be: a concussion. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that an estimated 300,000 high school athletes suffer one each year, and concussions make up over 13 percent of all injuries they sustain.

Contact Sports & Head Injuries

The majority of high school sports are of the variety known as “contact” sports. Contact sports are those where opponents make physical contact with each other, often in battles for possession of the object of play. This physical contact is sometimes incidental, but in some cases it’s a vital part of the game. In almost all cases, coaches and instructors encourage this contact as it is not only within the rules of the game but gives players an advantage.

When combined with the increased desire for results and victories, coaches and athletes will often push themselves through injuries they think are minor. Unfortunately this means they tend to ignore injuries that need immediate attention, such as potentially serious head trauma. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, one of the effects of a head injury, can be devastating and have life-changing consequences including an increased chance of Alzheimer’s disease and much more.

While it’s understandable that an athlete may want to continue to push themselves, especially if they want to continue their athletic career into the college level and beyond, the truth is that failing to treat a head injury properly can have devastating health consequences. An untreated concussion may never fully heal and only leaves any athlete predisposed to even further injuries and concussions should they take another heavy knock to the head again later.

High School Football Injury Statistics

Out of all high school sports, nothing even comes remotely close to the amount of head contact in football. While other sports have high head contact risks, nearly every single play in a football game has one or more players running their head into an opponent. Logically, this makes football the leader in high school athletic head injuries around the country every year.

Studies have shown that high school football injuries are no small matter, and yet we hear so little about it. A study conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine recently discussed the realities of CTE and its connection to football. While the chilling numbers about former NFL players made news, little was said about the further results of the study which showed the impact in high school players. CTE was found in 21 percent of the high school players surveyed, or more than one out of every five. There are nearly 67,000 diagnosed concussions in high school football every year, and further research by The New York Times also found that at least 50 youth football players (high school age or younger) have died or sustained a debilitating head injury on the field since 1997. That’s more than one per year.

Is this to say that students shouldn’t participate in high school football or another sport of their choosing? Far from it. In fact, many studies have shown that the physical health and social benefits of extracurricular activities drastically outweigh injury risks, and are a tremendous positive on a student’s life. However, as a parent or coach, no head injury is worth the risk of playing through and leaving untreated. If your athlete sustains a knock on the head, pull them out and have them evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible in order to help them live a better and healthier life.

If your student has sustained a head injury participating in high school athletics and you suspect negligence may have played a role, contact the Martin County personal injury attorneys at Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC today at (866) 675-4427!