Mayor Chris Beutler issued a proclamation today for National Safe Kids Week and encouraged families to attend two events focusing on the prevention of sports injuries:
The events are sponsored by Safe Kids Lincoln-Lancaster County, a coalition of public and private injury prevention experts and others in the community who are concerned about unintentional injuries occurring among children. These injuries are the leading cause of death to children ages 1 to 14 nationally and in Lancaster County. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department coordinates the coalition.
The events will feature local experts on sports injury prevention; more than 25 interactive activities; and demonstrations on pedestrian and bike safety, swimming pool and boating safety, and fire and burn prevention as well as child passenger and home safety.
Mayor Beutler also introduced two middle school students recovering from sports injuries. During a 2008 soccer game, Chase Wolinski's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was torn. After surgery and a four-month recovery, she was cleared for volleyball practice, but re-tore the ligament, requiring another surgery and six months of rehabilitation.
"Had we known in advance the importance of weight training and proper stretching in injury prevention, we would have done everything differently," said Chase's mom, Jude Eberhardt. "Chase went through a solid year of pain and some isolation. She's leading an active life again including sports, but does leg strengthening exercises and knows she has to stretch before each activity. She's really had to learn how to succeed all over again."
Scott Wineman is recovering from head and neck injuries experienced during a football game last October 2009. "I worked so hard to get on the 8th-grade team that I didn't think about being smaller than a lot of the other guys," said Wineman. Two plays in which he was hit by opponents left him with whiplash, a concussion, and a hairline fracture of a vertebrae.
"Patience is not a virtue when it comes to sports injuries," said Scott's mom, Lyn. "In hindsight, Scott should not have continued playing after the first hit, and we would have gotten him to specialists immediately." Although Scott's fracture healed, he still suffered serious headaches, fatigue, attention disorder, difficulty reading and neck pain. In January, he was referred to the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury program at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and began therapy. At school, the emphasis is on what he learns rather than his earned grade.
Counseling helped both students deal with issues about fear, self-image, and the loneliness that comes from being left out of sports and social events involving physical activity.
According to Safe Kids USA, more than 30 million American children participate in extra curricular sports each year. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates that more than 3.5 million children age 14 and younger seek medical attention each year as a result of sports injuries. About 40 percent of traumatic brain injuries among youth are associated with sports and recreational activities.
The Lincoln-Lancaster Injury Surveillance System shows that over the 2006 though 2008 three-year period, 3,085 young people 18 and under were treated for sports injuries in Lincoln hospitals. This resulted in 3,799 days of hospitalization and $3.3 million in hospital charges for hospitalization only.
More information on Safe Kids is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: safekids).