Epidemic Proportions?

January 11, 2017

Last week, at the First Annual Andrews Lectureship at Tulane University, Dr. James Andrews said that injuries in youth sports have become an “epidemic.”

“Our research indicates that there has been a five to seven, and in some cases, ten-fold increase in injuries in youth sports,” Andrews said. “That’s an epidemic of injuries in kids sports.”

According to sportsNOLA,  Andrews, presenting at the event named in his honor, presented statistics indicating that sports is the leading cause of injury in adolescents, and of the 30-45 million youth athletes, 3.5 million children are treated each year for sports-related injuries. He concluded that the issue was a major health reform issue, and that parents needed to be educated about the risks their children face. He has found that many parents who visit his office are unaware that their children could get hurt while playing soccer.

Andrews said cheerleaders were among the young athletes who were most susceptible to injury

“For catastrophic injuries, cheerleaders lead the stats,” he said. “Over the 26 years from 1982 to 2008, they show disabilities caused by head or spine trauma are almost double for high school cheerleaders than for all other female sports combined,” he said. “There were 73 catastrophic injuries including two deaths during this period.”

Andrews said that requiring certification for youth coaches is one step that will help to address this problem, citing studies that show that 80 percent of parents believe that testing and certification should be required for anyone who intends to coach.

“Fewer than half of the (youth) coaches say they have received certification,” Andrews said. “Until you mandate certification of youth coaches you are not going to be able to control youth injuries."