Keep Kids Safe: Change the Rules

Kids are suiting up for their favourite Fall sports but when it comes to safety, are helmets and pads enough to keep our young athletes safe?

Canadian doctors Ross Upshur and Paul Echlin don’t think so.

The concussion problem is being called a “silent epidemic.”. Doctors Upshur and Echlin believe a fundamental shift must be made in youth sports to protect the brains of young competitors.

“Our children should have the right to play at all levels of skill in an environment without fear of brain injury from intentional ‘win at all costs’ violence, or unrecognized repetitive trauma,” write Upshur and Echlin. They estimate that there are between 1.6 and 3.8 million traumatic brain injury (mTBI) incidents annually in the US, many of which remain undiagnosed. They believe that with mTBI cases rising amongst children and teens, it’s only ethical to make major changes in their game rules to keep them safe.

According to CBC, Upshur and Echlin suggest:

  • Changing game and rule structures to eliminate intentional head contact.
  • Minimizing incidental head contact in all children’s sports.
  • Increasing the size of playing surfaces.
  • Decreasing the number of participants on the field of play.
  • Consider eliminating the use of the head in games like soccer.
  • Enforcing significant suspensions to participants or supervising adults in games in which head injuries occur.

“There’s no helmets, or mouth guards or safety devices that can change this [silent epidemic],” says Echlin. “It is about a shift in the way that we allow our youth to play games.”

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Picture of Michael Slater, K.C.
Michael Slater, K.C.
Michael Slater K.C. is the founding partner of Slater Vecchio. The majority of his practice is confined to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury cases.