Regular physical activity is important, especially for kids.
Team sports are also important for interpersonal skill development.
The choice on what sport your child plays should ultimately up to them but is often influenced by the culture of where you live and especially by the sports a parent played.
Another factor hitting the headlines now is contact sports and risk of concussions. With results from research in the NFL particularly, we now know the harmful effects of even the most "minor" seeming contact hits and the accumulation of harm over time.
So before you insist on your child following in your footsteps to play football or hockey or any of the other "Big Six", take a step back and consider these factors.
what's a contact sport?
The "Big Six" contact sports are:
Even though it does not technically meet the definition of a contact sport, concussion rates in lacrosse are high enough for this popular sport to also be a concern. As I'll mention later, helmets don't offer the protection we often assume.
risks from contact sports
Contact sports place your children at risk of sustaining a "traumatic brain injury", commonly called "TBI".
TBI happens when the head is whipped back and forth and the brain collides with the skull.
We now know that TBI results in severe injuries, requiring significant, long-term care, treatment and management. Multiple TBIs can lead to dementia and explosive anger problems in older age.
TBIs can occur in many scenarios, such as car accidents and falls, not just contact sports.
If you're thinking to yourself "I played hockey for a decade and am just fine", know that your child could sustain a TBI in just their first game, leaving you needing to contact skilled TBI attorneys in order to assist with the resulting healthcare issues for your child.
You often think of keeping your child safe from falls, and wearing their seatbelt in the car, but not in their leisure time sport activity. Engaging in contact sports increases the chance a child will experience a TBI.
TBI vs concussion
Concussions are a type of TBI, and can be caused by direct blows to the head, violent shaking, or whiplash type injuries. It takes a few months to even a few years for concussions to heal.
The other types of TBIs in increasing severity are contusion, coupe-contrecoup, diffuse axonal, and penetrating wounds.
do helmets prevent TBIs?
No; helmets protect the skull, but the internal motion of the brain cannot be prevented by wearing a helmet.
youth contact sports
Experts say that children should be banned from contact sports: children under the age of 18 should play modified versions of the "big six" sports and lacrosse, allowing for reduced contact. Parents should also be concerned about "heading" the ball in soccer and volleyball.
Non-contact sports such as basketball, table tennis, swimming, track, are preferable when it comes to risk of TBI.
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