Did you know that lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S.? In the last five years, the number of young athletes playing lacrosse rose 158 percent. That’s a meteoric rise.

I checked with the Texas Scholastic Lacrosse Association, Inc. (TSLA), the governing body for the Texas High School Lacrosse League, and learned the league has 90 Member School Programs for the 2014/2015 season, and more than 3,700 high school student athletes across the State of Texas. At this rate, it’s important for parents to start paying more attention to this sport.

There are plenty of reasons kids are drawn to lacrosse. First and foremost, it’s an action-packed game. But as with most sports with a lot of action, there are going to be injuries. Thankfully, the rate of injury is relatively small. Researchers have determined there are about two injuries for every 1,000 athletes participating in the game.

As you might expect, strains and sprains are the most common injuries. But concussions come in second, at 22 percent. If your child plays lacrosse, here are some facts you should know:

• Injuries are three times more likely to happen during games than practice.
• Boys are 1.5 times more likely than girls to be injured.
• Boys are more likely to get concussions.
• Boys are seven times more likely to get concussions in games than practice.
• Boys’ injuries are most often due to contact with a player.
• Girls’ injuries are most often due to being hit with the stick or the ball.

Some additional info to know: In lacrosse, full-body contact is allowed and helmets are mandatory. In girls’ lacrosse, full-body contact is NOT allowed and helmets are NOT typically worn. Personally I believe that it is full bore crazy that girls lacrosse doesn’t require helmets.

I’m hoping this changes in the future, despite the data that supports girl’s not wearing helmets. The more girls become involved in the sport, the more likely injuries will occur, so it’s best to protect them sooner than later.

As an emergency physician certified in concussion management, a big part of my job is to help parents understand the risks involved in youth sports, and educate and prepare them for those risks. Lacrosse is a great game and I’m all for sports and keeping our kids active. But as lacrosse continues to grow, it’s important for parents to know all they can about keeping their children safe when they play. And should your child suffer a head-hit, the most important step you can take is to remove your child from play and go straight to a medical professional.

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