When school starts in the fall, students look forward to participating
in sports such as football, soccer and cheerleading. While these activities
are an enriching part of the educational system, they present certain
health risks. Here are some tips to keep in mind to reduce the chance
of adverse effects.
Get a Pre-Participation Examination
National Athletic Trainers’ Association recommends that children and teens who plan to engage in sports get a
physical examination beforehand. Some young athletes may have medical
conditions that prolonged, vigorous activity could worsen.
Have the Proper Perspective
The emphasis in school sports should be on the fun of playing the game
rather than purely on winning. Undue pressure to win can result in depression
when the team loses. It can also lead to risky behavior on the field that
increases the likelihood of injuries.
Wear a Helmet
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high school
sports alone cause more than a million brain injuries each year. That’s
a staggering figure – one that really should force changes in athletic
policy across the U.S. At a minimum, students should wear protective headgear
for contact sports as well as receive instruction on concussion prevention.
Parents and school authorities should get familiar with the signs of concussions
and encourage student athletes and coaches to report symptoms. Be advised
that the brain’s chemistry undergoes profound and poorly understood
metabolic changes in the days following even mild traumatic brain injury
(e.g. concussions sustained during football games). In the days following
a hit to the head, be especially watchful, and seek medical assistance
In some areas of the country, warm weather lingers well into the fall.
School coaches should acclimatize students to exercise outdoors gradually
over a one- to two-week period. Encourage teens and children to drink
water before, during and after workouts.
Sadly, the gymnastics involved in cheerleading puts students at risk of
injuries. For more information, see
Annual Report Names Cheerleading as Most Dangerous Sport for Female Athletes.
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