Youth Soccer Injuries Are Way Up

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — With the rise in popularity of soccer among kids and teens, so comes the rise in the number of injuries.

A new study, published in the medical journal Pediatrics, found that from 1990 through 2014, the number of soccer-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments in the U.S. each year increased by 78 percent and the yearly rate of injuries increased by 111 percent among youth 7-17 years of age.

That translates into more than 300 kids wind up in emergency rooms every day with some sort of soccer related injury. The study, spanning 25 years, found the most common injuries were sprains, strains (35 percent) and fractures (23 percent).

Boys are more likely to have broken bones and cuts while girls have more knee and ankle issues.

“Kids are playing more frequently than they used to. They are playing year round and in more leagues than they have done before,” said researcher Tracy Mehand.

One of the biggest concerns is protecting the young player’s brain which is still developing. The study found there had been nearly a 1,600 percent increase in the rate of soccer related head injuries including concussions.

Josh Zweydorff, 15, suffered a concussion last year after colliding with another player.

“He apparently kneed me in the head and I don’t think I ever passed out but I don’t really remember much,” said Zweydorff.

The U.S. Soccer Federation now prohibits players under 11-years-old from using their head to strike the ball.

“Well, I think everybody is talking about concussions,” said Brandi Chastain.

The former Women’s National Team star wants U.S. Soccer to go even further and not allow kids to head the ball until they are at least 14-years-old.

“I think the toughest thing to do as a young person is to advocate for yourself. So if you do head the ball or you do fall down and you’ve hit your head and maybe you don’t feel right, how do you stand up to your coach and say I can’t play, when all that’s inside of you is that competitor saying you’ve got to go out to the field,” said Chastain.

The good news is that coaches and parents are now much more aware of concussions and the long term impact they can have on their kids. They are taking concussions much more seriously on the soccer field and that just one of the reasons there has been such a huge increase in emergency room visits.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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