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Recognizing Kids' Sports Injuries

In The Early Show's series, "Kids and Sports," we looked at ways to recognize and treat common sports injuries in children. It's a topic about which CBS News Health Contributor Dr. Jordan Metzl has written in his new book, "The Young Athlete."

Not all injuries are as obvious as, say, a broken arm or sprained ankle. And this is what makes injuries, such as a low-grade concussion, potentially very harmful, because nothing is done to treat them.

There are three grades of concussion:

  • Grade I is the most mild is called a grade one. The player will have a dazed look and talks of having his bell rung. You can also expect the person to be dizzy and have some memory loss. If you notice any of these signs, take the child off the playing field. The player can return later on if he can run on the sidelines without feeling dizzy or having a headache.
  • Grade II is also called a blackout. It is when someone loses consciousness for less than five minutes. If this happens, the young athlete should be taken off the playing field immediately. The child can only resume contact sports when a physician has given the green light.
  • Grade III is a very serious condition. The person will be unconscious for more than five minutes. The child should be taken to the emergency room even if he wakes up and looks good. This is very important. Parents or coaches may assume that if the child has regained consciousness, they are okay, but that is not necessarily the case.

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Soccer is very popular this time of year. Should parents be concerned about their children using their heads to maneuver the ball? Dr. Metzl says most of the medical studies that address this issue seem to indicate that hitting the ball with ones head is not injurious to the brain or to long-term cognitive function. That said, it is very important that a proper use proper heading technique. That means keeping a rigid neck. It is also important that your child is playing with a soccer ball that is appropriate for their age.

Children, we need to remember, are different than adults. They have cartilage growth plates. If too much stress is put on these plates, serious problems can occur. A young baseball pitcher who has spent too much on the mound is vulnerable to a widened growth plate in his shoulder. So it's important for parents of Little Leaguers to limit the amount of time their child is playing if they are in a position that requires frequent throwing.

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