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Alabama Child Injury and the Risk of School Sports

Aug 15, 2013 - Birmingham, Personal Injury by

With the start of the new school year comes the beginning of school-sponsored sports — something in which Alabama students, coaches and parents take great pride.
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However, our Birmingham personal injury lawyers know that such activities sometimes come at an enormous risk to the students involved, particularly if all precautions aren’t taken prior to the start of the season.

While some states like Illinois are just now beginning to kick off discussions about insurance for student athletes who may incur catastrophic injuries, it is already required in Alabama by both the Alabama Independent School Association and the Alabama High School Athletic Association, with coverage capped at $1 million.

This may sound like a lot, but when a student athlete suffers a major sports-related injury, it’s entirely possible that medical bills alone could exceed that amount. That’s why it’s critical for everyone involved to become educated and take whatever additional precautions are recommended.

A recent report by Safekids.org, entitled “Game Changers”, reveals that some 1.35 million American children were rushed to hospital emergency rooms last year with sports-related injuries.

Injuries most commonly included:

  • Ankles – 15 percent
  • Head – 14 percent
  • Fingers – 12 percent
  • Knees – 9 percent
  • Face – 7 percent

Fractures, strains, sprains, contusions, abrasions and concussions were the most common diagnoses.

Any of those can be serious, but of course the most concerning are injuries to the brain, which can be very deceiving in terms of severity, particularly right after the event. Delayed symptoms may mean that it might not be apparent to outsiders that someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury until hours or possibly even days after someone has been hurt.

Disturbingly, nearly half of all sports-related concussions involved child athletes between the ages of 12 and 15. Nearly 30 percent involve athletes between the ages of 16 and 19 and nearly 20 percent involve those just 8 to 11 years-old.

The sports known to have the highest number of injuries were:

  • Football – 275,050 injuries
  • Basketball – 250,000 injuries
  • Soccer – 105,000 injuries
  • Baseball – 62,00 injuries
  • Softball – 40,000 injuries
  • Wrestling – 34,000 injuries

Part of that is simply due to the fact that these are the sports that tend to have the most players. On average in each sport, about 15 percent of all injuries involved a concussion.

Some 47 million children across the country play sports, and it is an overwhelmingly positive experience for almost all of them – physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. Injuries to some extent might be seen as simply part of the nature of sports.

However, debilitating injuries or those that last long-term may entitle your child to compensation.

Safekids.org encourages parents to learn all they can about concussions. Knowing the causes, signs and symptoms may help you to act quickly if your child is suffering from one. Make sure your child knows it’s important not to “tough it out” if they have suffered an injury. That could make the situation worse. Getting enough rest, both between games and between seasons, is also critical for young players.

Coaches are encouraged to also learn as much as possible about concussions and to be unwavering in the commitment to immediately pull a child from play if one is suspected. Do not be swayed by others, even parents, to keep an injured player in the game.

Additional Resources:

Game Changers, August 2013, Safekids.org

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