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In the U.S., more than 3.5 million youth sports injuries occur in children and teens each year. In fact, almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related injuries, according to Stanford Children’s Health.
Even though you’ve heard the numbers and are aware of the possibility, there’s a moment in every sports parent’s life that the facts about youth sports injuries become more than just numbers.
I vividly remember…
…seeing my oldest daughter break her arm while playing soccer and rushing her to the emergency room.
…watching my son go down more than once in a basketball game, wincing in pain at a sprained ankle.
…the pain my youngest daughter felt when she broke her toe playing soccer and her anguish that it kept her out of the game for a few weeks.
There’s no good news when it comes to sports injuries. And as if the injury itself isn’t painful enough, add to that the medical costs that come with a trip to the emergency room. According to a recent study by Securian, nearly half of the parents they surveyed recently with employer-sponsored health insurance said they have had a child experience a major injury, with 71 percent saying the injury cost up to $2,000 out of pocket. The most common incident involved an emergency room visit. (Securian Benefits Survey, September 2017)
Any way you look at it, youth sports injuries are a real pain. If you have active, athletic kids, injuries are inevitable. You most certainly can’t control what injuries happen in the game or practice, but you can be prepared for when they do. Start by checking on what your health insurance deductible is and if your plan includes any other provisions that could trigger out-of-pocket costs, like co-payments and co-insurance.
If you feel frustrated because your out-of-pocket costs are way too high, check to see if your employer offers add-on or supplemental insurance like those products issued by Securian. Benefit payments from these coverages can be used to help cover those costs.
However, just in case you think there’s a “safe” sport, there is actually not one that is totally safe. In fact, look at this list of the 20 sports that cause the most injuries from PropertyCasualty360.com, listed in order of most injuries to least:
- bicycle riding
- weight lifting
- roller skating
- horseback riding
- martial arts
The most injuries occur in sports that involve contact and collisions.
More severe injuries happen during individual sports and recreational activities.
Most organized sports-related injuries (62 percent) occur during practice.
I will attest to the injury during practice statistic. It happened to my 3 athletes way more than I care to remember, the most common being ankle sprains. According to these facts, they are the most prevalent.
The most common sports injuries according to WebMD are:
- Ankle sprain–saw one of these almost every year during 22 years of being a sports mom.
- Groin pull–yep, saw my son suffer this in football.
- Hamstring strain–yes to two of the three kids.
- Shin splints–yes, to all three kids.
- Knee injury: ACL tear–fortunately no to any of my kids, but my son-in-law just tore his ACL while scrimmaging with the team he coaches!
- Tennis elbow–yes, to all three kids.
Basically, the only way to totally prevent injuries to kids in sports and in recreation is to wrap them in bubble wrap and lock them in the house!
How to Recover From a Youth Sports Injury
Rule #1: Follow the doctor’s orders. Besides that, it takes patience and time to wait it out. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind as your child struggles with being forced out of the game.
- Set realistic goals. Setting milestones and working to reach them will encourage your child to keep being patient and keep working on recovery. Talk to your child’s physician about the rate of recovery for their age and injury, and ask for exercises that you and your child can work on together at home.
- Be sure your child is doing their part. As you encourage your child’s recovery, be sure they are accepting responsibility and working towards getting better. Once you’ve set goals, it’s up to your child to meet them, with a little encouragement of course. Those recovery milestones will come sooner for your child if they put in the time and effort to reach them.
- Stay involved with the team. Even injured, your child is still part of the team. It may be very hard for them to sit on the bench and watch, but it will be good for them to cheer for the team, celebrate victories and suffer losses. Staying involved will keep your child connected to the team and prevent them from feelings of self-pity and isolation.
Some of the toughest lessons my kids had to learn happened because of injuries. One of the biggest disappointments for my quarterback son came in his senior football season as he was headed for all-section honors. Although he was not injured in the game, he was sidelined for the last four games of the season because of an emergency appendectomy. I think I cried more than he did to see his season end so abruptly and sadly. I’ll never forget how well he handled it as he calmly told me, “Mom, everything happens for a reason.”
Although injuries often look like setbacks, they in themselves give your young athlete an opportunity to learn patience, persistence and strength. No parent wants to see their child injured, but remember that learning from injuries is just as much a part of the journey as playing in the game.
Insurance products are issued by Securian Life Insurance Company.