For anyone playing a youth sport here in Indiana or Illinois, as well as parents, teachers, coaches, and caretakers for these players, it’s very important to know the risks involved in the activity as well as the dangers of serious and permanent harm that can result from a sports injury.
Youth Sports and Adult Sports Injuries
For instance, several years ago an orthopedic surgeon published an online warning about the increasing danger of severe sports injuries in children and teenagers playing sports: not only were he and his peers seeing more patients with still growing bodies present with injuries incurred while playing on the field, but the types of injuries these orthopedic surgeons were seeing were “adult-type athletic injuries” in patients who were not yet adults. See, “Competitive Youth Sports Injuries Today Can Lead to Permanent Damage Tomorrow, If Proper Precautions Aren’t Taken,” written by Dr. Mark Sanders in August 2008.
Dr. Sanders warned that these youth sports injuries were the kind that not only sidelined the player at the time, but were potentially life-altering, permanent injuries to the body. He also warned of a higher risk of early onset osteoarthritis. Some serious stuff for children playing on their school soccer, basketball, or football team, right?
It’s a concern that is being echoed by other doctors. For instance, Dr. Larry Benson was interviewed last fall regarding the rising trend in serious and severe youth sports injuries. Dr. Benson’s orthopedic urgent care clinic was reporting 30-50 youth sports injuries each week last November, and some of these patients are facing some serious consequences of playing school sports. They may have suffered permanent and irreversible damage long before reaching the age of adulthood. See, “What parents don’t know about youth sports injuries long-term effects,” by Amy Lacey published by WJHL on November 25, 2015.
Millions of Serious Youth Sports Injuries Each Year
One insurance company, an insurer that provides insurance coverage for those who offer youth sports events (teams, leagues, etc.), was concerned about this rising trend as far back as April 2010. In its article, “Youth & Amateur Sports Injuries,” the company cited a Consumer Product Safety Commission study that found there were over 3.5 million sports injuries reported in children under the age of 15 that required medical treatment in an emergency room, hospital, or doctor’s office.
Growing Bodies More Vulnerable to Sports Injury
The insurance provider warns that growing bodies mean that these players are vulnerable to injury in ways that fully-formed adult human bodies are not. An adult may suffer a serious sprain in an accident on the field; that same event may produce a sever growth plate injury in a minor child or teenager.
Of particular concern: contact sports for minor players. It is in contact sports that the most serious damage can occur, like spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, harm to the growth plates. Additionally, injuries that might not otherwise be permanent or severe with life-altering results may become serious and permanent if they are ignored or not properly treated.
Children Will Not Want to Leave the Game
Another issue among children and sports injuries: often, they won’t want to stop playing the game to deal with their injury. We’ve already warned about how kids will downplay how bad they are feeling or the pain that they are experiencing in order to stay in the game. It’s the job of coaches, teachers, parents, caregivers, and friends to monitor these kids and pull them from play if there is any concern or suggestion that they may have suffered an injury (particularly one to the head, neck, or spine).
Wide Variety in Size (Height, Weight) Among Teams
Moreover, as Kids’ Health acknowledges, children are simply at a higher risk of sports injury than adults. Why? One more factor to add to the mix: children of the same age may not mature at the same rate, and teams can be filled with children of various stages of development. Having players facing each other on the field with a variety of heights and weights adds a twist to the game that adult sports does not have.
Kids are grouped onto teams by age or by grade. When children play youth sports on a field where there is a wide variety of sizes and shapes among those players, the children are much more likely to suffer a serious sports injury than an adult player on an adult team participating in the exact same sport.
Accident Claims Resulting From Sports Injuries to Children or Young Adults
In severe sports injuries, victims face life-long care needs, from medical care to rehabilitation and therapy to psychological treatment and more. The player may be facing a series of surgeries, or a program of physical therapy that may span weeks, months, or even years. If the sports injury impacted their spinal cord or brain stem, the player may have to adapt to a life where he cannot use his arms or legs, or may no longer have the same mental capacities he enjoyed before he was hurt.
Sports injury claims are advanced against those responsible for the oversight and care of the youth who was playing at the time of the injury. This can include the coach, as well as assistants, other teachers, school administrators, and more. League officials may be responsible for damages, too, along with manufacturers and distributors of defective sporting equipment.
Shockingly, these cases may find a fierce defense. You may find teachers arguing things like school immunity protects them from being financially responsible for the player’s injuries even if they were negligent and failed to properly supervise the players at the time that the victim was hurt.
Insurance companies will want to fight especially hard in personal injury cases involving youth sports injuries, because the damage to the child may involve decades and decades of care needs and that will add up to a tremendous amount of financial costs. For them, the goal is to minimize what they have to pay in order to maximize their bottom line for their shareholders.
Any severe sports injury involving a child or teenager deserves the utmost respect — and zealous efforts to find that victim justice. This is especially true when this sports injury victim is so young, and has to deal with pain and suffering along with severe bodily injuries and their aftermath. These are children and teens!
It’s a horrible position for any parent to experience, as well, to care for a child that is suffering — especially when that suffering is the result of a preventable event brought about because of the negligent conduct of another. Be careful out there!