Sports Safety

As youth and high school sports become more competitive, they have also become more dangerous.

ESPN analyst and former professional football running back Merril Hoge, author of Find a Way: Three Words that Changed My Life , is no stranger to the hard-hitting consequences of the sport, as he suffered two concussions in a five-week span.

"The big problem with what happened to me is I was back on a football field too soon, without being properly evaluated," Merril says.

A concussion is the most common head injury and occurs when an impact to the head causes the brain to hit the side of the skull, resulting in bruising of the brain. The damage sustained from a concussion is considered more dangerous in children, because their brains are still developing. Suffering multiple concussions can cause cognitive problems in both children and adults.

Common signs of a concussion are confusion and amnesia. If a victim cannot answer simple questions such as, "What is your name?" and "Do you know where you are?" he or she may have a concussion. If a person loses consciousness, is confused, lethargic or vomiting, take him or her to an emergency room immediately.

Warning Signs of a Concussion
• Nausea or vomiting
• Headache and dizziness
• Confusion and amnesia
• Loss of balance
• Ringing in ears
• Sensitivity to light and noise

Warning Signs of Head Trauma

• Abnormal pupil size
• Abnormal gaze
• Abnormal behavior — even if it's subtle
• Drowsiness
• Disorientation
• Vomiting
• Lethargy
• Loss of consciousness
• Slurred or repetitive speech

Merril shows 11-year-old Zac, a youth football player, and his mother, Doreen, the essentials for staying safe on the field.

Helmet Safety

Too Injured to Play?

The field isn't the only place kids can get hurt during a game; the sidelines may be just as dangerous. Learn the hazards of cheerleading, and how to minimize the risk of serious injuries.

More Sports Safety Tips

From dehydration to knee surgery, Luke, 15, has suffered a number of setbacks while playing sports. His mother, Susie, is concerned that he gets back on the field too soon after one and wants to know what she can do to ensure her son's safety. Orthopedic surgeon and former NFL champion Dr. Mark Adickes, joins The Doctors to reveal health tips for young athletes like Luke.

• Learn more sports safety tips from pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears.

Learn more about screening athletes.

Sprains and Broken Bones

If you spot an obvious injury like a broken bone, first immobilize the area. For example, a magazine wrapped around an injured wrist and taped together can stabilize the injury like a cast while you head to the hospital.

For the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury, remember the RICE method to decrease swelling and inflammation:

Rest the injury
Apply Ice for 20 minutes every two to four hours
Apply a Compression bandage
Elevate the injury above the heart