Health Check Kids: Avoiding collision sports injuries

(WJAR)

Each year, more than 300,000 children in the United States go to the emergency room for sport and recreation-related concussions.

They are not just football injuries. Concussions are prevalent in several other sports, like lacrosse, rugby, hockey and even water polo.

But during this time of year, the focus is on football.

"A helmet is not developed to prevent concussion. It's really to protect from skull fractures,” said Dr. Peter Kriz, a sports medicine expert at Hasbro Children's hospital and University Orthopedics, who added that helmet technology is "definitely improving."

Still, not all helmets are created equally. You can find out how your child's helmet rates on a Virginia Tech website.

"It’s not just for football, but ice hockey and soccer, even bicycle helmets,” Kriz said.

Kriz said you want a helmet with a four or five-star rating. But helmets alone won't make a difference. Rules do, too.

"There's a new rule in college football just this year where if there's a kickoff within 25 yards of the goal line, you can have a fair catch so that results in the ball being placed at the 25-yard line,” Kriz said.

Three years ago, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League put ice hockey penalties and suspensions into play once a player exceeds a certain amount of time in the penalty box.

"We've looked at injury rates in the three seasons before that rule change, and then injuries after the rule change in three seasons, and we're going to be publishing on that in the next few months, but the bottom line is a significant reduction and concussions and closed head injuries, as well as upper extremity injuries,” Kirz said.

He added that symptoms include headaches, dizziness, light and noise sensitivity, as well as problems with concentration.

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