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Preventing sporting injuries
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) acute sporting injuries consist of sudden trauma such as strains, bruises and fractures. Injuries resulting from overuse consist of a series of repeated small injuries.
In a US study of one thousand young athletes, fifteen hundred coaches and one thousand parents, SAFE KIDS WORLDWIDE (2014) found:
• One in four coaches indicated that they did not take any actions to prevent injuries to their players during training or games
• Nine out of ten athletes indicated that they were injured while playing a sport
• 54 per cent of the athletes indicated that they played with an injury such as a sprain or a broken bone.
• 13 per cent athletes say they had concussion or head injury
• 28 per cent of athletes indicated that it was normal to commit hard fouls and play rough to ‘send a message’ during the game.
• 50 per cent of the coaches indicated that parents and or players pressured them into putting an injured player back into play
• Less than 50 per cent of the coaches indicated that they were certified in detecting and preventing sporting injuries (safekids.org)
The use of protective equipment such as helmets, face masks, eye protection, genital cups, dental protection and padding (for example chest, shin) is critical in preventing injuries or minimising the impact of forceful contacts.
Coaches/trainers are obligated to point out to athletes all potential injuries especially those related to the neck and head. In the absence of sport medicine professionals, coaches/trainers and club administrators must ensure that there are personnel trained in CPR and first aid. This is very important for amateur clubs and other organisations such as schools who may not be able to afford the services of sport and exercise medicine professionals.
While the onus is on athletes to wear protective equipment at all times regardless of the level of the sport, manufacturers also have a responsibility to consistently improve their products so as to help prevent and or minimise injuries.
Sport medicine professionals are obligated to treat athletes in accordance to their medical ethical standards. They must never buckle to the pressures of coaches, management, sponsors, parents and even the athletes. This also includes the non-administering of performance enhancing drugs.
In the end preventing sporting injuries falls upon all stakeholders- athletes, coaches, medical professionals, management, sponsors and parents.
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