Sports safety advocates met in Sacramento Tuesday morning to discuss what one local surgeon called an “alarming, rapid increase in youth sports injuries.”
The summit at the Legislative Office Building, organized by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, called on parents, coaches and health care providers to take steps to prevent these injuries, which include heat stroke, cardiac arrest and concussion.
“A decade ago, physical injuries only seen in professional athletes are now commonplace in youth athletes aged 8 to 15,” said Dr. Robert Burger, a sports medicine specialist at Kaiser Permanente in Roseville.
Over the past two years, there were at least 115 sport-related deaths in 33 states, including eight in California, according to the NATA.
California is one of three states – the others are Alaska and West Virginia – that do not regulate or license athletic trainers, said Michael West, president of the California Athletic Trainers’ Association.
West said his association is working to reintroduce legislation to certify athletic trainers and establish injury prevention guidelines.
An athletic trainer’s knowledge and caution saved the life of 18-year-old Tommy Mallon, who described his sports injury ordeal Tuesday.
Seven months ago, the San Diego athlete was playing the last game of his high school lacrosse career.
In the last two minutes of the game, he collided with another player while running for a ground ball.
Recovering, Mallon felt a strange sensation.
His athletic trainer, who was versed in emergency medicine, ran over and checked his vitals.
Mallon wanted to continue playing; he hated when games were put on hold for injuries.
But the trainer made him lie down and called 911.
Had it not been for that, he wouldn’t be walking today, Mallon said.
Doctors in the emergency room discovered he had fractured his neck.
The other solution to the youth sports safety crisis is proper prevention, experts said.
It should be mandatory for children to have pre-participation physician examinations, said Dr. Cindy Chang, a UC Berkeley sports medicine specialist.
“In addition, it’s essential to develop … community emergency action plans for sports injuries,” she said.