Serious Sports Injuries Remain Rare but Experts Urge Parents to Question Safety Practices of Teams

By Kaplan, Allison | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 8, 1999 | Go to article overview

Serious Sports Injuries Remain Rare but Experts Urge Parents to Question Safety Practices of Teams


Kaplan, Allison, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Allison Kaplan Daily Herald Staff Writer

A high school football player is more likely to suffer a paralyzing injury by hitting his head on the bottom of a backyard swimming pool than by tackling a running back.

"There is an inherent risk in every activity we do," said John Powell, a certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainers' Association. "The chance of catastrophes is extremely small."

But with two high school sports tragedies in the Northwest suburbs on the same day, experts agree it's only natural to become alarmed. Parents should not pull their children off a team, but it is important to question safety practices and make sure kids get a physical exam annually.

A Fremd High School hockey player suffered a fatal heart attack while on the ice Wednesday. The coroner said Brian Knuerr, 16, had a pre-existing heart condition that went undetected.

Also, Rolling Meadows High School varsity football player Robert Komosa was fighting for his life Thursday, a day after suffering paralysis after colliding head first with a fence post during a practice.

Of the 6 million high school students who play sports in the United States, an average of 6,000 are injured each year, according to a National Athletic Trainers' Association study released last month. The vast majority of injuries are strains and sprains. Volleyball produced the lowest injury rate at 1.7 per 1,000; football the highest at 8.1 injures per 1,000.

More than 1 million American high school students play football, and five to eight die on the field each year, said Frederick Mueller, director of the National Center of Catastrophic Sport Injury Research.

"It's few and far between," Mueller said, acknowledging that's not much comfort when the victim is your son or daughter.

Still, the benefits of sports far outweigh the risks, NATA's Powell said.

"Sports are a very important part of physical development, and they teach kids confidence and positive values," Powell said.

There are precautions parents can take, though, from ensuring kids maintain a nutritious diet to limiting workouts to two hours a day, the NATA recommends. …

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