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Prevent Child Sports Injuries

A high school football player in San Jose, Calif., died on Tuesday after a collision with another player.

Joseph Barajas had suffered a concussion in another game only one month ago. Doctors have not linked the cause of death to the original injury. But parents are still questioning the safety of organized sports.

CBS News This Morning gets some pointers from Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine specialist with New York's Hospital for Special Surgery who has published papers on pediatric and adolescent sports injuries.

Football is a high-contact sport with head injuries being quite common. According to an article in last month's Journal of the American Medical Association, an estimated 63,000 students suffer concussions each year.

Yet high school football, though it does pose dangers, is about 100 times safer than riding in a car, according to Dr. Metzl.

"We want to get our kids active and keep them active. It's important to give them that message," he says.

Pediatric obesity has more than doubled in 20 years, he points out.

He cites two trends: "One group of kids are increasingly participating in sports. And society is becoming increasingly less fit; we have trouble keeping kids active," he adds.

Pointing out that high schools offer a variety of sports, Dr. Metzl advises parents to listen to what their kids want to do.

The following is a list of sports categorized by degree of contact:

High Contact Football, soccer and rugby
Medium Contact Cheerleading, baseball and fencing
Low Contact Swimming, dancing and running

To prevent children's injuries in contact sports, provide them the proper equipment and help them be in shape.

"Many times you see a kid who is 16 or 17 who has a younger sibling and you get hand-me-down equipment. Kids need to have equipment based on their age," he says.

"I encourage strength training," he adds, pointing out it can decrease injury.

For example, Barajas suffered his concussion on the field, walked off the field, then collapsed. So if a child does suffer a concussion during a game, parents should be aware of the grade of the concussion, says Dr. Metzl.

The following is an overview of the course of action to take depending on the severity of the injury:

Mild Bell ringing, dizziness, headache,
memory loss.
No competition until symptom-free with exertion.
Moderate Unconscious for less than three minutes.Observation. No competition for one week until symptom-free from exertion.
SevereLoss of consciousness for more than three minutes.Admission to hospital. Referral to neurologist before resuming competition.
Source: Dr. Jordan Metzl

To read about equipment that can improve soccer safety, visit "Make Safety Your Soccer Goal."

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