That’s why extreme sports may be too risky for children and teens.
The statistics are sobering. In 2014, I was part of a team that studied injuries related to extreme sports. We found that more than 4 million such injuries occurred between 2000 and 2011; 40,000 of those were head and neck injuries, which can be very serious and lead to lifelong disabilities.
And studies show that a child’s brain is more vulnerable to the effects of a brain injury and takes longer to recover.
Kids don’t have the tools they need to make good choices about whether participating in these kinds of sports is worth the risk. It’s not just a matter of maturity; it’s a matter of brain development. Scientists have found that the part of the brain that guides impulse control and weighs risks versus rewards is not fully mature in teenagers.
That’s why responsible adults need to step in and tell young people who want to participate in these very dangerous sports that they have to wait—at least until they’re old enough to be responsible for their own decisions.
—VANI J. SABESAN, M.D.
Associate Professor Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit