Childhood sports injuries may be inevitable, but there are some things you can do to help prevent them. Preventing Injuries
Enroll your child in organized sports through schools, community clubs, and recreation areas where there may be adults who are certified athletic trainers (ATC). An ATC is also trained in the prevention, recognition and immediate care of athletic injuries. Review the Parent's Checklist for Spring Sports to help ensure a safe and healthy playing environment for their children who participate in organized sports Make sure your child uses the proper protective gear, such as mouth guards or eye protection for a particular sport. This may lessen the chances of being injured. Warm up Before Exercise. This can help minimize the chance of muscle strain or other soft tissue injury during sports. Warm up exercises make the body's tissues warmer and more flexible. Wear sunscreen and a hat (where possible) to reduce the chance of sunburn, which is actually an injury to the skin. Stay properly hydrated while playing. Know the warning signs of a serious injury Treat Injuries with R.I.C.E. Rest. Reduce or stop using the injured area for 48 hours. If you have a leg injury, you may need to stay off of it completely. Ice. Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, 4 to 8 times per day. Use a cold pack, ice bag, or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice that has been wrapped in a towel. Compression. Compression of an injured ankle, knee, or wrist may help reduce the swelling. These include bandages such as elastic wraps, special boots, air casts and splints. Ask your doctor which one is best. Elevation. Keep the injured area elevated above the level of the heart. Use a pillow to help elevate an injured limb. Common Childhood Sports Injuries
Sprains and Strains A sprain is an injury to a ligament--a stretching or a tearing. One or more ligaments can be injured during a sprain. A ligament is a band of tough, fibrous tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint and prevents excessive movement of the joint. Ankle sprains are the most common injury in the United States and often occur during sports or recreational activities.
A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon. A muscle is a tissue composed of bundles of specialized cells that, when stimulated by nerve impulses, contract and produce movement. A tendon is a tough, fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscle to bone.
Growth Plate Injuries In some sports accidents and injuries, the growth plate may be injured. The growth plate is the area of developing tissues at the end of the long bones in growing children and adolescents. When growth is complete, sometime during adolescence, the growth plate is replaced by solid bone. The long bones in the body are the long bones of the fingers, the outer bone of the forearm, the collarbone, the hip, the bone of the upper leg, the lower leg bones, the ankle, and the foot. If any of these areas become injured, seek professional help from a doctor who specializes in bone injuries in children and adolescents (pediatric orthopaedist).
Repetitive Motion Injuries Painful injuries such as stress fractures (where the ligament pulls off small pieces of bone) and tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon) can occur from overuse of muscles and tendons. These injuries don't always show up on x-rays, but they do cause pain and discomfort. The injured area usually responds to rest. Other treatments include RICE, crutches, cast immobilization, or physical therapy. Also see: More Kids Developing Overuse Sports Injuries
Heat Injuries Playing rigorous sports in the heat requires close monitoring of both body and weather conditions. Heat injuries are always dangerous and can be fatal. Children perspire less than adults and require a higher core body temperature to trigger sweating. Heat-related illnesses include dehydration (deficit in body fluids), heat exhaustion (nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, heavy perspiration, normal or low body temperature, weak pulse, dilated pupils, disorientation, fainting spells), and heat stroke (headache, dizziness, confusion, and hot dry skin, possibly leading to vascular collapse, coma, and death) These injuries can be prevented.
Tips for Exercising Safely in Hot Weather
Recognize the dangers of playing in the heat. Respond quickly if heat-related injuries occur. Schedule regular fluid breaks during practice and games. Drinking water is the best choice; others include fruit juices and sports drinks. Kids need to drink 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes, plus more after playing. Make player substitutions more frequently in the heat. Wear light-colored, "breathable" clothing, and wide-brimmed hats Use misting water sprays on the body to keep cool. Exercise Has Many Benefits for Children Exercise may reduce his chances of obesity, which is becoming more common in children. It may also lessen his risk of diabetes, a disease that is sometimes associated with a lack of exercise and poor eating habits.
As a parent, it is important for you to match your children to the sport, and not push him or her too hard into an activity that he or she may not like or be capable of doing. Sports also helps children build social skills and provides them with a general sense of well-being. Sports participation is an important part of learning how to build team skills.
Sports Injury and Prevention Here are tips to help prevent kids sports injuries.
Common injuries and locations: Bruises, sprains, strains, pulled muscles, soft tissue tears such as ligaments, broken bones, internal injuries (bruised or damaged organs), back injuries, sunburn. Knees and ankles are the most common injury sites. Safest playing with: Helmet; mouth guard; shoulder pads; athletic supporters for males; chest/rib pads; forearm, elbow, and thigh pads; shin guards; proper shoes; sunscreen; water. Prevention: Proper use of safety equipment, warm-up exercises, proper coaching and conditioning. Basketball.
Common injuries and locations: Sprains, strains, bruises, fractures, scrapes, dislocation, cuts, dental injuries. Ankles, knees (injury rates are higher in girls, especially for the anterior cruciate ligament, the wide ligament that limits rotation and forward movement of the shin bone), shoulder (rotator cuff strains and tears, where tendons at the end of muscles attach to the upper arm and shoulder bones). Safest playing with: Eye protection, elbow and knee pads, mouth guard, athletic supporters for males, proper shoes, water. If playing outdoors, add a hat and sunscreen. Prevention: Strength training (particularly knees and shoulders), aerobics (exercises that develop the strength and endurance of heart and lungs), warmup exercises, proper coaching, and use of safety equipment. Soccer
Common injuries: Bruises, cuts and scrapes, headaches, sunburn. Safest playing with: Shin guards, athletic supporters for males, cleats, sunscreen, water. Prevention: Aerobic conditioning and warm ups, and proper training in "heading" the ball. ("Heading" is using the head to strike or make a play with the ball.) Baseball and Softball
Common injuries: Soft tissue strains, impact injuries that include fractures due to sliding and being hit by a ball, sunburn. Safest playing with: Batting helmet, shin guards, elbow guards, athletic supporters for males, mouth guard, sunscreen, cleats, hat, breakaway bases. Prevention: Proper conditioning and warm ups. Gymnastics
Common injuries: Sprains and strains of soft tissues. Safest playing with: Athletic supporters for males, safety harness, joint supports (such as neoprene wraps), water. Prevention: Proper conditioning and warm ups. Track and Field
Common injuries: Strains, sprains, scrapes from falls. Safest playing with: Proper shoes, athletic supporters for males, sunscreen, water. Prevention: Proper conditioning and coaching. How Your Child Can Prevent Sports Injuries
Be in proper physical condition to play the sport. Know and abide by the rules of the sport. Wear appropriate protective gear (for example, shin guards for soccer, a hard-shell helmet when facing a baseball or softball pitcher, a helmet and body padding for ice hockey). Know how to use athletic equipment. Always warm up before playing. Avoid playing when very tired or in pain. Get a pre-season physical examination. Make sure there is adequate water or other liquids to maintain proper hydration.
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