The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described youth sports injuries as an epidemic with roughly 3.5 million of these injuries occurring annually in the United States. Each year, one in three participants seeks medical attention for a sports-related injury, resulting in lost sports and school time. However, according to the CDC, more than 50% of these injuries are preventable.
The STOP (Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention) Sports Injuries campaign is a program developed by AOSSM to help prevent overuse injuries in young athletes. As sports medicine professionals, it is our duty to educate the community on how to best keep our young athletes safe. STOP has sports injury prevention tips and tools for athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, parents, and healthcare providers to ensure that safety is a top priority. The website contains both sportspecific and injury-specific approaches for prevention, proper recognition of injury, and initial treatment.
Here are some ways that STOP can be used by local communities and coaches.
- Education: STOP can be used to educate parents, coaches, and young athletes about the risks of overuse injuries and how to prevent them. Community members can be encouraged to use the STOP resources, which include educational materials to learn more about injury prevention.
- Promotion of Safe Play: STOP can be used to promote safe play in local sports leagues. Local organizations can partner with the AOSSM to implement STOP guidelines for coaches and parents, including the importance of proper warm-up and cool-down, limiting playing time, and ensuring athletes are properly hydrated.
- Injury Reporting: STOP can be used to promote injury reporting in local sports leagues. Athletes and parents can be educated about the importance of reporting injuries promptly, and leagues can implement protocols for handling injuries, including a return-to-play protocol.
- Coach Education: STOP can be used to educate coaches about the risks of overuse injuries and how to prevent them. Coaches can be encouraged to review the STOP injury and sport-specific resources, which include information on injury prevention strategies and how to identify and manage injuries.
- Safe Training Practices: Coaches can use STOP to promote safe training practices. They can incorporate the STOP warm-up and cool-down exercises into their training programs, ensure athletes are properly hydrated, and limit playing time to prevent overuse injuries.
- Injury Management: STOP can be used to help coaches manage injuries. They can use the STOP injury reporting protocol to ensure injuries are reported promptly and implement the STOP return-to-play protocol to ensure injured athletes are fully healed before returning to play.
Overall, STOP is a valuable tool for local communities and coaches to promote safe play, prevent overuse injuries, and manage injuries in young athletes. By using the STOP resources and guidelines, communities and coaches can help ensure the health and safety of their young athletes.