A Saturday at the ballpark is good for a lot of things. Kids learn teamwork and discipline through sports, and they get exercise and a sense of confidence. Plus, they can be a social outlet for kids and parents.
But there are some downsides to contact sports, and fears of kids getting hurt has changed the way that many parents think about team activities. In recent years, a greater understanding of the risks of concussion, which can lead to longterm brain impacts, has lead to new rules and equipment — and a downturn in participation — in sports such as football.
But with more information also comes the ability for doctors and parents and coaches to make sure that kids are safe while they enjoy athletics. New guidelines published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics gives some recommendations to parents and doctors, noting that athletic activities are important in battling obesity among kids, as long as they are safe.
In the report, the doctors talk about the importance of teaching kids in sports about collision techniques that are safer, such as avoiding head-to-head contact in football. The techniques need to be specific to the sport, and parents should be aware of the risk factors and what to look out for with a concussion.
The doctors talked about the need for different rules and policies based on the sport and the age of the kids. For example, body checking shouldn't be allowed in hockey until kids are 13, the recommendations said.
They also talk about the use of helmets in high-impact sports, although they note that the evidence isn't there yet to show that it would do much good for rugby and soccer.
It's great that doctors are taking on the questions that have been on parents' minds since news began spreading about the impact of concussions. No one wants to keep kids from having fun, but these recommendations will hopefully translate into policies that can keep kids safe while participating in the sports that they enjoy.
As a parent, it's great to know that kids can have the benefits of playing sports and the doctors are working hard to make sure that they won't get as hurt while doing what they love.
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