Soccer is one of the most popular youth sports in the United States and worldwide. But, a new study found that youth soccer injuries have increased significantly from 1990 to 2014. In fact, the number of emergency room visits due to youth soccer related injuries have increased by 78% and the yearly rate of injuries have increased by 111%. Wow! How is it that with the advancement in equipment, training methods, healthcare and injury prevention that injuries are increasing by so much in youth soccer?
In my opinion injuries are increasing for a number of reasons. Youth soccer has transformed into a year round sport with indoor and outdoor facilities all over. In addition to the longer season, there’s the longer practices and the repetitions of movements and skills. I always think of it like a factory worker. They do the same movements day in and day out and are prone to injury. Yet, it seems like no one bats an eye when it comes to the specialization of youth sports such as soccer.
One of the scariest parts of this study is that it found that concussions increased 1596 percent! Concussions at the youth level are one of the scariest injuries out there in my opinion. The effects not only short term but also long term are still being studied and there is a lot more to learn. Brain trauma is still a very undeveloped field and the more research that is done, the scarier concussions become.
So what can be done? I recommend that youth should play multiple sports throughout the year but not just one sport such as soccer. I also recommend not playing two sports at the same time such as basketball and soccer. If your child suffers a concussion, do not rush them to return to play and always make sure the return to play is managed by an appropriate healthcare professional. I’m all for youth playing sports instead of sitting on the couch and playing video games but it is important to make sure that they are not overworked.
-Dr. Brian Damhoff