Ohio's Return to Play Law is now in Effect
The new Ohio Return to Play Law went into effect on April 26, 2013.
“Approximately 3,000 Ohio youth, aged 18 and younger, are treated in emergency departments on average each year for sports-related traumatic brain injuries,” said Elizabeth Fries, co-chair of the Safe & Sound Coalition in Union County, and coordinator of the Sports Injury Prevention program at the Union County Health Department. “This new law is critically important to protect young Ohio athletes from serious and potentially permanent harm. We encourage our partners to help promote awareness of the new law.”
Ohio’s return to play law is intended to protect the brains of young athletes by promoting the recognition and proper response to concussions when they first occur in order to prevent further injury or even death. In addition to new training requirements for coaches and referees, the law requires any young athlete participating in school or organized recreational sports to be removed from practice or play if they are suspected of sustaining a concussion. The athlete is then prohibited from returning to practice or play until they have written clearance from an authorized health care provider.
More information about the law is available at www.healthyohioprogram.org/concussion.
Kids can still get dehydrated. It's important for young athletes to drink plenty of water 30 minutes before activity begins, and at least every 15-20 minutes during play. Follow this link for more helpful tips on how to keep your young athlete hydrated:
Millions of children participate in sports and recreational activities every year in the United States. However, there are also millions of sports-related injuries occurring and unfortunately, these numbers are on the rise. It is estimated that more than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries annually.
The most common types of sports-related injuries in children are sprains, muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, and heat-related illness. Traumatic brain injuries (concussions) are also on the rise and it is estimated that 2 out of 5 traumatic brain injuries among children are associated with participation in sports.
A traumatic brain injury occurs when a bump, blow, or jolt to the head changes the way the brain normally works. This type of injury can occur during practices and games in any sport or recreational activity. It is estimated that 90% of traumatic brain injuries occur without the loss of consciousness. Children and teens are more likely to sustain a concussion and take longer to heal than adults. Direct medical costs and costs such as lost productivity due to traumatic brain injury totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 2000.
Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
- Bothered by light or noise
- Feeling sluggish or groggy
- Difficulty paying attention
- Memory problems or confusion
If a traumatic brain injury is suspected, the following steps should be taken:
- Notify the coach or athletic trainer.
- Get a medical checkup from a doctor or healthcare professional.
- Allow adequate time to heal.
For more information about traumatic brain injury prevention and treatment, take the free online Heads Up training from the Center for Disease Control. This training teaches coaches how to recognize, respond to, and prevent concussions in sports. Additional materials including the following fact sheets are also available.
- Concussion Fact Sheet for Athletes
- Concussion Fact Sheet for Coaches
- Concussion Fact Sheet for Parents
An overuse injury occurs when there is repetitive strain to a tendon, bone, or joint. As more children are playing sports year round, overuse injuries are becoming more common. Experts estimate that up to 50% of sports-related injuries seen in children are related to overuse. Common overuse injuries include tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, and stress fractures.
The key to preventing overuse injuries is time off. It is recommended that athletes have at least two to three months off per year. In addition to proper rest and recovery time, there are also specific exercises that can reduce the risk of injury. To view videos of these exercises and learn more prevention tips, please visit Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Heat-related illness is the leading cause of preventable death among high school athletes. These heat stroke deaths occur mainly during the summer months and at the beginning of conditioning for fall sports. Heat-related illness occurs when there is an excessive loss of fluids from the body often initially resulting in dehydration.
For more information about keeping athletes properly hydrated, please see the Hydration Recommendations from the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Want an inexpensive way to make your athlete safer on the field? Pop in a mouthguard! More than 2 million teeth are knocked out every year in sports-related injuries. Mouthguards prevent injury to the mouth, teeth, lips, cheek and tongue and reduces the risk for concussions. According to the American Dental Association, wearing a mouthguard is the most effective way to reduce the incidence and severity of sports-related dental injuries.
Through the sports injury prevention program at the Union County Health Department, all Union County youth athletic teams are eligible to receive a Mouthguard Team Kit from the Union County Health Department. The kits are free and available while supplies last. Each team kit will include mouthguards, athlete pledge cards, parent brochures, and dental emergency cards for coaches.
Educational materials from the team kits can also be downloaded and printed:
To receive a kit for your team, please complete and submit the following request form:
Skin infections among athletes are a serious concern for many sports. These infections are passed through direct skin-to-skin contact or by the sharing of sports equipment, clothes, and towels. If left untreated, skin infections can cause lost playing time, reoccuring wounds or rashes, permanent scarring, and in some rare cases they can be life-threatening.
The simplest ways to prevent these infections include:
- Frequently washing hands with soap and water
- Showering immediately after practices and games
- Covering all open cuts and wounds with waterproof bandages
- Washing clothes and towels immediately after practices and games
- Establishing and implementing policies and procedures for cleaning and disinfecting shared sports equipment
To learn more about the prevention and treatment of skin infections among athletes, visit the Minnesota Department of Health. Additional materials including the following fact sheets are also available.
- Skin Infections Fact Sheet for Athletes and Families
- Skin Infections Fact Sheet for Coaches and Team Leaders
Beginning in 2010, the Union County Health Department has awarded grant funds to Union County organizations serving young athletes. These grant funds are used to make physical improvements to local athletic facilities in order to reduce the risk of sports-related injury.
In 2012, the program awarded $4,200 in grant funds to three organizations to make physical improvements to local athletic facilities to reduce the risk of injury.
The Central Ohio Youth Center, a juvenile detention facility that serves youth from Union, Madison, Champaign, and Delaware counties, received funds to make much needed improvements to their basketball court. Basketball is one of the most popular activities at the facility and with large cracks and crumbling asphalt, the court had become a safety hazard. With the funds provided by the health department, the court was cleaned, the asphalt was repaired, and the entire surface was resealed. New lines were painted on the court and the basketball hoop was repainted and reset in concrete.
The second project funded through the injury prevention program was the installation of a fence at Monroe Field for the North Union Little League. The field used by the Richwood baseball program was lacking fencing alongside a busy road. Parents and coaches were always concerned that children would chase foul balls forgetting to check for traffic. With the funds provided, a 60 foot fence with a gate was installed to connect existing fence to the dugout area making the field a much safer environment for Richwood’s youth.
St. Paul Lutheran School was the third organization to receive funds in 2012. In the gymnasium at St. Paul, tables are stored and frequently accessed in a storage area within one of the gym walls. The covering of this storage area was particle board that had broken over the years. With the grant funding, St. Paul was able to construct and install removable, cushioned mats to cover the storage area. In addition, St. Paul was able to purchase new tumbling mats to replace the 35 year old mats that were previously being used during classes.
2011 Athletic Facility Improvement Projects
Fairbanks Summer Ball Association
The Fairbanks Summer Ball Association who was also funded for field improvements in 2010, once again demonstrated their strong commitment to the safety of their athletes. Through the hard work of their association, the FSBA was able to leverage an additional $8400 in funds, donations, and in-kind support to complete their project. As a result of their time and effort, the FSBA was able to resurface and sod the remaining field from the 2010 project and install break away safety bases on two of their three fields.
Broadway Baseball Association
The Broadway Baseball Association received grant funds to make improvements and repairs to two baseball fields in Broadway. The Broadway Baseball Association serves over 170 young athletes.
St. John's Lutheran School
St. John's Lutheran School used funds to purchase tumbling mats for their gymnasium. These mats are being used to ensure the safety of students in physical education classes and those participating in the cheerleading program.
2010 Athletic Facility Improvement Projects
Fairbanks Summer Ball Association
The Fairbanks Summer Ball Association received funds to improve baseball/softball fields in Milford Center. With these funds and generous donations, the FSBA was able to repair and construct new fencing, level and reseed the outfields, and resurface the infield areas.
North Union Local School District
The North Union Local School District was provided grant funds to repair and improve a community basketball court in Richwood. This grant along with other funds allowed the school district to repair broken fence and concrete, repaint the courts, repair backboards, and install new breakaway hoops.
Heart of Ohio Girls Softball Assocation
The Heart of Ohio Girls Softball Assocation used funds to purchase safety bases for Marysville softball fields.
Union County Family YMCA
The Union County Family YMCA used the athletic facility improvement funds to purchase pads and safety equipment to be used for youth volleyball leagues and camps.