Release Date: 4/4/2011
Parents can help prevent kids’ sports injuries
Dr. Dana Galbraith, a Family Medicine specialist, practices at St. Anthony's Family Health Partners. Call 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 for a physician referral.
After a winter we thought would never end, spring is finally here. Your kids, bored and restless from being cooped up indoors, are ready to hit the ball fields and the playgrounds. They can’t wait to ride their bicycles, scooters and skateboards.
But are they really ready? Each year in the U.S., some 3.5 million children under age 15 get hurt playing sports, with about 775,000 requiring treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Many of these injuries could be prevented with proper training, conditioning and equipment.
With adult supervision and instruction, training may include weightlifting and other physical exercises, to help increase a young athlete’s strength and stamina. Aerobic activities, like track and field sports, can improve an athlete’s speed and fitness. A month before the season begins, kids should get involved in a general physical activity once or twice a week, working up to three or four times a week by the time team workouts start. Youths should be encouraged to train for the sport rather than expecting the sport itself to get them into shape.
Most injuries among young athletes fall into two basic categories: overuse injuries and acute injuries. Overuse injuries are a series of small injuries to immature bodies that can cause minor fractures, minimal muscle tears or progressive bone deformities. Children are especially vulnerable to overuse injuries because their bones are still growing. Acute injuries, which are the most common, are caused by a sudden trauma and may include bruises, sprains, strains and fractures. Warming up before and cooling down after any intense sports activity is important for kids, especially during growth spurts, to prevent some injuries.
Making sure your child has – and uses – the proper equipment can prevent many injuries. Face masks, mouth guards, shin guards and other protective gear greatly reduces the likelihood and severity of injuries. Eye protection, such as a face-mask or goggles, should be worn for all impact sports. Approximately 30 percent of eye injuries among children under the age of 16 are sports- related, and 90 percent of those are preventable.
Each year, more than 275,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries. Thousands more sustain injuries using skates, skateboards and scooters. Most of those injuries can be prevented simply by wearing proper protective gear; a safety-approved, well-fitting helmet reduces the risk of serious head and brain injury by 85 to 88 percent.
The basic treatment for many simple injuries is often “R.I.C.E.” – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. If a child develops a symptom that persists, see your family doctor.
While there is no such thing as an injury-free sport, a little common sense and some pre-sport preparation can keep your kids in the game all summer.
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
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