Helmets must fit snugly to reduce head injuries among youth athletes

Children grow up fast, so quickly in fact that many parents may struggle to keep pace as they outgrow clothing and shoes. Some parents may also fail to realize that materials used to keep their children safe as they play sports – helmets, pads, uniforms and other gear – need to be replaced often or the well-being of youth athletes could be in jeopardy.

The Rebel Yell, the student newspaper of the the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV), reports that the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort (LVSSR) partnered with a local hospital last month to launch the Lids On Kids program, which is designed to teach youth and parents the potential safety hazards of sports. The program has also distributed about 1,000 free helmets to youth during the last five years.

"With 7- [to] 13-year-old children, they out­grow their helmets each year and helmets aren't cheap," Jon Morelli, LVSSR di­rector of business development, told the news source. "We provide helmets to everyone who shows up and we have volunteers who know how to properly fit a helmet. Too often, we see people with their foreheads exposed and improper fit­ting of a helmet can lead to head injuries."

While parents are responsible for ensuring their children are properly outfitted to play sports, coaches must play an active role in safe equipment practices on-the-field. They should educate their athletes as to the long-term effects of concussions and use information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess whether children may be suffering from a head injury.

Programs like Lids On Kids are also a useful resource for coaches across the country. Using information derived from these initiatives, coaches and parents can prepare for the spring sports season by purchasing the correct baseball helmets, football helmets and other safety equipment for their children.