Throughout Western Montana, thousands of kids enjoy the life lessons and health benefits that accompany participation in athletics. With these life lessons come an inherit risk for injury to bones, muscles, and ligaments. The top cause of trips to the emergency room for children 12-17 years of age is due to sports-related injuries (1). Additionally, there is a risk for life threatening injuries that can occur during participation in practices or games. A recent study in the Journal of Athletic Training showed that the top four causes of death to high school and collegiate athletes were sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic brain injury, exertional heat stroke, and exertional sickling (2).
With these risks, parents have the right to be concerned about allowing their child to participate in youth athletics. Ultimately, there are ways to decrease the risk of these injuries and prepare to ensure that when injuries occur they are properly managed, regardless of their severity. These risks can be decreased by utilizing proper healthcare professionals on the sidelines of games or practice. Additionally, Emergency Action Plans are essential to ensure potentially catastrophic injuries are managed properly and in a timely manner and that adjustments to play can occur in the event of extreme heat or cold, lightning, and unhealthy air conditions.
Being prepared for these situations is not an easy task. It takes the cooperation and hard work of licensed athletic trainers, physicians, sport administrators, coaches, parents and athletes to truly make sports safe. Throughout the month of October, the Montana Athletic Trainers’ Association (MTATA) has been running a “Safety in Sport” Campaign. The campaign is designed to recognize all the individuals that keep sports safe in Montana. Additionally, the campaign has helped to keep the topic of youth sport safety in the forefront so continued improvements can be made.
Missoula Bone and Joint (MBJ) is proud to provide the services of licensed athletic trainers to our area high schools, Missoula Youth Football, Missoula Mavericks Baseball, and other youth sporting events that occur throughout the year. The work of the MBJ athletic training staff and physician group has helped to build partnerships with these schools and organization administrators, coaches, athletes, and the families of these athletes. In all, youth sports in Missoula has become safer and will continue to be safer under the direction of all individuals involved.
For more information on what is being done throughout Montana to keep our athletes safe and to learn more about athletic training, please visit www.mtata.org
Paul Capp, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS
Licensed Athletic Trainer Missoula Bone & Joint/Hellgate High School
(1) Parents, fearing injury, may keep kids from playing sports: National survey suggest many may not know steps to keep kids safely in the game. https://www.nata.org/nr06262018
(2) Epidemiology of Sudden Death in Organized Youth Sports in the United States, 2007-2015. https://natajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.4085/1062-6050-358-18