Spinal cord injuries sustained by student athletes can result in lifelong disabilities and impairments. Some of the conditions a student athlete may sustain from spinal cord injuries include:
- Complete or partial paralysis
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Problems with circulatory control
- Loss of skin sensation
- Respiratory problems
- Loss of or reduced sexual function
- Depression and anxiety
- Physical pain, including muscle, joint, and nerve pain
- Loss of muscle tone
- Muscle atrophy and weight loss
It is important that parents, trainers, coaches, schools, and sports organizations work together to protect a student athlete from spinal cord injuries.
How Can Parents Protect A Student Athlete From Spinal Cord Injuries?
There are many ways you can protect your student athlete from spinal cord injuries. Five important steps to reduce the risk of spinal cord injuries while your child participates in a sport are:
1. Always wear a helmet and protective gear.
Your child should never be on the field engaged in a sport unless he or she is wearing protective gear. Make sure that you purchase, or the equipment being used by the school or organization is the highest quality equipment available for student athletes. In addition, regularly inspect the equipment for damage. Do not rely on your child, coaches, or trainers to inspect equipment on a regular basis. Immediately replace damaged or worn equipment.
2. Make sure coaches are teaching correct methods for contact.
Student athletes must be trained to perform various maneuvers in contact sports safely. Teenagers who want to impress their coaches or who are focused solely on winning the game may take risks. Talk to the coach to ensure that the coach instructs students on safe contact and vigorously enforces the rules related to contact.
3. Inquire about on-the-field emergency plans for spinal cord injuries.
The moments after a spinal cord injury are crucial. All sports organizations should have a detailed plan for on-the-field evaluation of an injured athlete. Parents should request a copy of the plan and review it carefully to ensure the correct steps are taken for a suspected spinal cord injury. If you are in doubt whether the plan covers everything necessary to reduce the risk of further injury to the spinal cord, consult with a medical professional to seek his or her opinion and advice.
4. Discuss spinal cord injuries with your student athlete.
Do not assume that coaches and trainers talk to students about the dangers of spinal cord injuries. You need to spend time educating your child about the dangers and consequences of spinal cord injuries. Encourage your child to report any problems or issues to you immediately. Also, make sure your child understands that he or she must report any pain, discomfort, or other symptoms of a spinal cord injury to you immediately.
5. Attend practice sessions.
Parents should attend practice sessions in addition to attending games. In many cases, a parent can get a better feel for how coaches and trainers are instructing players during practice sessions than they can during a game. Quietly sit in on as many practice sessions as you can throughout the season to ensure that your child is receiving correct and safe instruction from the adults who have a duty to you and your child to take all precautions to protect student athletes from spinal cord injuries.
Schedule a consult with the Texas spinal cord injury lawyers at The Tony Law Firm today to discuss your options for pursuing a spinal cord injury claim.