Do's and Don'ts of Kids and Sports

School sports safety basics every parent should know

child wearing helmet safety issue

News flash: ER visits for sports-related concussions increased 92 percent among children and teens from 2002 to 2011, according to a 2013 Cincinnati Children’s Hospital study. Make sure your child stays safe on the field with these pointers. 


Do pick their sports carefully. Starting tackle football before age 12 might increase the risk of brain damage later in life, according to a recent Boston University study. One reason is that although kids are required to wear helmets, their necks might be not strong enough yet to support them, so their heads are more likely to snap back. Another sport to delay until later years is ice hockey.


Don't think a helmet equals safety. Although a helmet can keep an athlete from cracking his skull, it doesn’t prevent concussion. In fact, the use of both mouth guards and helmets has been criticized for giving players a false sense of security, so they feel free to act more aggressively, according to a 2013 expert review published in The BMJ.


Do know the symptoms of concussion. Emergency room visits for concussions are up, but the good news is that most cases are less severe than in the past—which indicates people are seeking treatment earlier. If your child gets hit in the head and complains of headache, nausea or dizziness or appears confused, even if she didn’t black out, get her checked immediately.


Don't let your child return to normal activities until her symptoms are gone. A kid is probably fine to return to school after a mild concussion, but the moment the headache returns, she should go to the nurse’s office and most likely go home. If she ignores the pain, it will take her longer to recover.