Sport does a lot for our kids. It keeps them active and teaches them teamwork and fair play. Unfortunately, it’s also sending more of them to the emergency room with sport-related concussions.
Back in June, Ontario introduced Rowan’s Law to protect kids. The timing couldn’t better. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) just released a report on kids in Ontario and Alberta with sport-related brain injuries. Between 2010 and 2015, there was a 78 percent increase for kids under 9 and a 45 percent increase for those ages 10 to 17.
The largest proportion of cases came from hockey. It’s our national obsession, but it’s a hard-hitting sport. Many current and ex-NHL players know the risk of a serious head injury. Sadly, a lot of kids are learning the same lesson.
But there is good news from the sport. Hockey is paying attention and is taking steps to reduce concussions in kids. In 2013, body checking was banned at the peewee level resulting in fewer concussions or brain injuries.
Of course, there are other sports to think about. Cycling, skiing/snowboarding, and rugby/football are each involved in 10 percent of sports-related brain injuries. Another 10 percent of injuries come simply from kids getting hit in the head by a ball.
We can do a lot for our kids to keep them safe while they play. Kids should always wear a helmet and protective gear when playing sports like hockey, football, baseball, or rugby. That also goes for activities like cycling, skiing, snowboarding, and riding all-terrain vehicles.
Never encourage targeting or tackling other kids on the field of play. Winning a game isn’t worth harming another child. And if your kid has been hit, take it seriously. Pull them out of play, check for symptoms of a concussion, and seek medical attention if they are showing any symptoms.