Oct 17, 2016

Dr. Gellner: Soccer seems to be a year-round sport now and more kids are playing it than ever. That's why we're seeing more soccer related injuries. How to protect your athlete during soccer games is today's topic on The Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering "The Healthy Kids Zone" with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: All Sports come with risks. We know that when we sign our kids up. That's why they make us sign all those forms. I know, I'm a soccer mom myself. But kids that play soccer are getting themselves injured at a much higher rate than they were 25 years ago, according to a recent study. From 1990 to 2014, the number of soccer-related injuries in the emergency room has increased by 78% among kids ages seven to 17.

Concussions especially are on the rise. Some of this is because more people are playing the game. Three million kids are participating in youth soccer programs every year, a 90% increase since the 1990s. While many of the injuries are sprains and strains that we expect, 23% of these juries are fractures. Concussions, while only accounting for 7% of overall injuries, have increased by 1600% in the last 25 years.

So why is this happening? Researchers noted that the intensity of play is higher than ever. We aren't giving kids' bodies a break. They are playing more than they are used to. They are playing harder than they are used to. The researchers actually think that this is an underestimate of the number of injuries as well. A lot of parents don't take their kids to the emergency room or their pediatrician when an injury occurs.

Does that all mean that we shouldn't let our kids play anymore? Absolutely not. Let them play. Let them be active. Let them learn the benefits that come with team sports. Of course, make sure they have good-fitting shin pads and cleats and always have plenty of water to keep them hydrated. And remember, most leagues have abandoned headers now. You can't do them. They're not a good idea.

Soccer organizations are all aware of these risks. Coaches now have to take concussion training every year to keep up to date on what to do if their player is injured. I know many parents are in the health care field and we don't mind stepping in at all to check on an injured child, regardless of if they are on our child's team or not. The goal is to make soccer fun and as safe as any sport can be and to be ready if and when anything happens.

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