04-06-2011 (Dayton, OH) -
Spring has officially begun and with temps warming up this week into the weekend, kids will likely be heading outside playing their favorite sports with friends or teams. While sports help keep your child active and in shape, choosing to forego the use of necessary gear and stretching for games and practices will make your little athlete’s risk for injury much higher.
Each year nationwide, more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and younger are treated for sports-related injuries. Roughly half of these injuries are sustained in solo activities including biking, skating and skateboarding. In addition, approximately 1 out of 4 participants in youth soccer, football or baseball has been injured at least once.
Between January and December 2010, The Soin Regional Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton saw over 1,900 sports-related injuries.
“In team sports, most injuries occur during practice, not games,” says Lisa Schwing, RN, trauma program manager at Dayton Children’s. “Always insist that your kids wear the same protective gear, do the same warm-ups and take all the same precautions when they practice as when they're getting ready for a game.”
“When we think of sports injuries, we tend to think of dramatic tackles or falls - such as the plays you often see on highlight reels, but young athletes are also at risk of injuries,” saysSchwing. “If your coach recommends certain types of warm-ups, it’s not just to make you a better athlete — it will help keep you from getting hurt.”
Dayton Children’s and Safe Kids Greater Dayton recommend seven precautions for all children playing or practicing any individual or team sport:
- Before signing up for a sport, get a general physical exam.
- Always wear appropriate protective gear for the activity—in practice as well as game—and make sure it’s the right size and properly adjusted.
- Do your warm-ups. Again, if it’s important before a game, it’s important before practice too.
- Remember to cool down and stretch after playing sports.
- Make sure responsible adults know and enforce the safety rules of the sport, are present to provide supervision, and are trained in first aid and CPR. Also, make sure the field is in safe condition.
- Never “play through” an injury. Get immediate help from a coach or trainer and be sure to mention everything that hurts or aches.
- Follow the rules. In most sports, the rules are based not only on sportsmanship, but safety.
During sports, have your child wear appropriate gear including:
- shin guards and shoes with rubber cleats in soccer
- a helmet, face mask, and full padding during football
- shoes with good ankle support during basketball
- a batting helmet when up to bat during baseball
- a helmet when skiing or snowboarding and every time when riding a bike
“Finally, have your child drink plenty of water or electrolyte sports drink before and during the activity, and rest frequently during hot weather,” reminds Schwing. “A child can lose up to a quart of sweat during two hours of exercise, and kids get overheated more quickly than adults and cannot cool down as easily. If playing outdoors, your child should wear SPF 15 or higher sunscreen.”
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