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Your Child

Kids: Mouthguards For All Contact Sports

1:45

Youth sports participation has grown steadily over the years and so have injuries. The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety reports dental injuries as the most common type of face and mouth injury kids experience in sports related accidents.

A new report issued by dental experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says that mouthguards should be included in safety gear for all contact sports.  

Sports-related dental injuries send more than 600,000 people to the emergency room every year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Most of these injuries involve the front teeth, but the tongue and cheeks can also be hurt while playing sports, the UAB team said.

The best way to protect the mouth and teeth during sports is to wear a mouthguard, says Dr. Ken Tilashalski, associate dean for academic affairs at the UAB School of Dentistry. Mouthguards have been shown to reduce the risk of sports-related dental injury by 60 times, he said.

"Wearing a mouthguard reduces the chances of tooth fractures, tooth dislocations and soft tissue cuts," Tilashalski said in a university news release. "The guards also protect against jaw fractures and concussions by absorbing the energy of a traumatic blow to the chin."

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends wearing custom mouthguards for the following sports: acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. Other experts include baseball and softball infielders on that list. They further recommend the mouthguard to be worn during all practices and competition.

There are basically three types of mouthguards to choose from:

·      Stock: These are preformed and ready to wear, but they may not fit well inside the mouth.

·      Boil and bite: These may be customized and molded to the mouth by softening in boiling water before biting down.

·      Custom-made: A dentist tailor-makes these mouthguards to fit an individual's mouth. These mouthguards provide the best fit and the highest level of protection.

"For my kids, I have chosen to use custom mouthguards as they fit and feel better, do not interfere with speech, and are essentially invisible," Tilashalski said. "Mouthguards need to be replaced as they wear down, and athletes in the tooth-forming years will have to have these replaced more often as the mouth grows and the teeth change."

These mouthguards vary in price and comfort, yet all provide some protection. According to the ADA, the most effective mouthguard should be comfortable, resistant to tearing, and resilient. A mouthguard should fit properly, be durable, easily cleaned, and not restrict speech or breathing.

After each use, rinse your mouthguard and store it in a hard container to prevent the buildup of germs, Tilashalski said. Players should also avoid chewing on their mouthguard to extend its life.

It is important to remember damaged teeth do not grow back. Protect your child’s teeth by making sure he or she wears a mouthguard during practice, competition or just out having fun in a sport where falls are common such as biking, skating and skateboarding.

Story sources: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/dental-and-oral-information-9/misc-dental-problem-news-174/mouthguards-key-defense-against-sports-related-injuries-716284.html

http://www.nationwidechildrens.org

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Pre-teen Football Linked to Brain Changes in NFL Players

2:00

The start of a new school year also brings after-school sports programs. Late summer and fall is prime football season for many middle and high schools. In some states, it’s a hallowed tradition that boys and girls look forward to participating in whether it’s running down the field or cheering on the team.

While school football doesn’t typically offer the same ferocious body beating and brain –rattling that are seen in the National Football League (NFL), a new study shows that brain development can still be affected by playing football at a young age.

The study looked at the possible connection between a greater risk of altered brain development in NFL players who started playing football before the age of twelve as opposed to those players who began playing later in life.  The study is the first to show a link between early repetitive head trauma and future structural brain variations.

The study was small but interesting. It included a review of 40 former NFL players between the ages of 40 and 65 who played over 12 years of structured football with a minimum of 2 years at the NFL level.

One half of the players took up football prior to the age of 12 and half started at age 12 or later. The number of concussions suffered was very similar between the two groups. All of these players had a minimum of six months of memory and cognitive issues.

"To examine brain development in these players, we used an advanced technique called diffusor tensor imaging (DTI), a type of magnetic resonance imaging that specifically looks at the movement of water molecules along white matter tracts, which are the super-highways within the brain for relaying commands and information," study author Dr. Inga Koerte, professor of neurobiological research at the University of Munich and visiting professor at Harvard University, said in a press release.

The researches believe their findings add to the growing amount of scientific evidence that shows the brain may be especially vulnerable to injury between the ages of 10 and 12.

"Therefore, this development process may be disrupted by repeated head impacts in childhood possibly leading to lasting changes in brain structure," said study author Julie Stamm, currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Despite finding a link to the brain development window where kids are more likely to suffer brain injury by repeated head impacts, the small size of the study means the results may not necessarily apply to non-professionals.

"The results of this study do not confirm a cause and effect relationship, only that there is an association between younger age of first exposure to tackle football and abnormal brain imaging patterns later in life," said study author Martha Shenton, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Because of the intense publicity about and the findings of many studies on the short and long-term dangers of concussions, many school sports programs are looking at changing how they allow students to play in games associated with head injuries.  Where it was once common for coaches to let players continue playing after a particularly rough tackle or head butting, they are more likely now to insist that a field medical professional examine the child. Some schools are also implementing no tackle policies to protect very young players.

While traditional football isn’t likely to become extinct, parents and coaches can educate themselves about brain injuries and learn how to best protect young players from the chances of long and short-term disabilities.

Source: Brett Smith,  http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1113407634/pre-teen-football-linked-to-more-severe-brain-changes-in-nfl-players-081115/

 

 

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Keep Your Athletes Hydrated On and Off the Field

1:30 to read

With summer heat all across the country and kids heading back to school athletics, band practice, drill team and the like it is a good time to discuss heat related illnesses and their prevention.

It is always at this time of year that I begin worrying about heat exhaustion and heat stroke and I find myself re-emphasizing the importance of maintaining hydration, even before you start back to outside activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 129 deaths while playing sports due to heat and exposure to elevated temperatures.

Among high school athletes, exertional heat stroke is the third leading cause of death and is often related to lack of acclimation to the heat and dehydration. You can’t just head out to run three miles in the heat or work out in pads or march in the band on the hot field without preparing ahead of time. Heat exhaustion occurs when the core body temperature is elevated between 100.4 and 104 degrees. This is different than having a fever secondary to illness. Symptoms are typically non-specific but include muscle cramps, fatigue, thirst, nausea, vomiting and headaches. The skin is usually cool and moist from sweating and is indicative that the body’s cooling mechanism is working. The pulse rate is rapid and weak and breathing is fast and shallow. Coaches, athletes and others should all be aware of these symptoms. This is the body saying, “I am overheated” and don’t keep going! (You would not drive your car when overheated; you pull over, and at least add water.)

The mainstay of treatment is to prevent progression to heat stroke by moving to a cooler place, in the shade, air conditioning etc. Remove as much clothing as possible (uniforms, pads, helmets etc) to help heat dissipation. Water misting fans may be helpful. Begin rehydration with appropriate oral electrolyte solutions and water. When treated quickly and appropriately, symptoms usually resolve in 20 -30 minutes. The child should not return to activities that day, and should avoid heat stress for several days. Heat stroke is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY and will require transportation to the ER for aggressive treatment. In this case the previous symptoms have been missed and the core body temperature rises to 104 degrees or greater. The skin is flushed, hot and dry from lack of sweating. The athlete is confused, or even unconscious. The heart rate is fast and there is hyperventilation. The blood pools away from vital organs and can result in encephalopathy, liver, kidney and multiple organ failure. While awaiting transportation to the ER the athlete should be moved to a shaded area, clothing removed and ice packs may be applied to surface areas overlying major vessels, (i.e. the neck, beneath the arm pits, and the groin). Cooling and misting fans may also be used.

Continue to educate your children about the need for hydrating the evening prior to events, and for continuous hydration while exercising in the heat. They should know to drink fluids even when not thirsty, as once you become thirsty you are already behind in your fluid intake. With good education, and recognition of early signs over overheating heat related illnesses are preventable.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon! Send your question to Dr. Sue!

Your Teen

Amateur Athletes May Be at Greater Risk For CTE

1:45

Former NFL player and sportscaster, Frank Gilford, passed away in August. Not only was he well known for his on and off the field talents, but his name suddenly became associated with a terrible brain disease that is becoming all too common among former athletes, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. Gilford’s family said although he died from natural causes he also suffered from the debilitating effects of CTE which can affect thinking, memory, behavior and a person’s mood. His family decided to have his brain studied in hopes of shedding some light on the link between football and traumatic brain injury.  

A new study suggests that an increase of risk for CTE can begin much earlier in life for those who play contact sports where concussions and head trauma are common.

Researchers analyzed the brains of 66 men who had donated their organs to the Mayo Clinic Brain Bank and participated in sports such as football, rugby, wrestling, boxing and basketball while in school. Their brains were compared to the brains of 198 people, including 66 women, who never played contact sports.

CTE was found in the brains of a third of the men who played amateur contact sports. But no sign of the disease was detected in the brains of those who never played contact sports, the researchers said.

"The 32 percent of CTE we found in our brain bank is surprisingly high for the frequency of neurodegenerative pathology within the general population," wrote study author Kevin Bieniek, a pre-doctoral student in Mayo Graduate School's Neurobiology of Disease program.

"If one in three individuals who participate in a contact sport goes on to develop CTE pathology, this could present a real challenge down the road," Bieniek said.

Dr. Dennis Dickson, senior study author and neuropathologist at Mayo Clinic, noted that this study is the first to use newly developed government criteria to diagnose CTE in nonprofessional athletes.

"The frequency with which he [Bieniek] found CTE pathology in former [amateur] athletes exposed to contact sports was surprising," Dickson said. "It is pathology that had gone previously unrecognized."

Some individuals may be at an even greater risk of developing CTE if they have a genetic marker. Researchers have found two genetic markers that may affect the possibility of developing CTE.

"These markers need to be further studied in a larger group of CTE cases, but they could be very important in determining whether an individual is at greater risk of developing these brain changes," Bieniek said.

"The purpose of our study is not to discourage children and adults from participating in sports because we believe the mental and physical health benefits are great," he noted.

"It is vital that people use caution when it comes to protecting the head. Through CTE awareness, greater emphasis will be placed on making contact sports safer, with better protective equipment and fewer head-to-head contacts," Bieniek concluded.

The study was published in the December issue of journal Acta Neuropathologica.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/concussions-news-733/playing-contact-sports-in-youth-may-raise-risk-for-degenerative-brain-disease-705847.html

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