Playing It Safe
September 21, 2016
By: Karmen Weinzirl, MSPT
The timeline for competitive sports is changing in the United States. Children are starting competitive careers much earlier than past generations. With all the sports teams and organizations available to the youth of America, the number of sports-related injuries continues to climb.
Sports injuries are the second leading cause of emergency room visits for children and teens. Approximately 5 million youth athletes are seen by their primary care physicians or a sports medicine clinic for injury each year.
Having your child participate in physical activity leads to a healthy lifestyle. However, when workouts become too intense, tissue begins to break down in the body and injury occurs. The muscles can also start being overused, leading to injuries like stress fractures, tendinitis and dislocation of the joints. The following risk factors predispose young athletes to overuse injuries:
- sport specialization at a young age
- improper footwear
- pre-existing condition
- intense, repetitive training during periods of growth
When your child loves a sport, it may be a difficult decision whether to let him or her continue to participate after an injury.
If your child is injured while playing sports, the best treatment is R.I.C.E.:
- Rest: Do not use the injured area until you see a physician. If needed, use crutches.
- Ice: Apply ice to the injured area to decrease the pain and swelling. The key is to use ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time about every two hours. Ice is critical to the healing within the first 48 to 72 hours of injury.
- Compression: Apply an elastic wrap or compression sock to reduce the swelling of the injury. Apply the wrap below the injured area and wrap upward leaving toes and fingers exposed if applicable. Do not sleep with the wrap on the injured area.
- Elevation: Use gravity to control the swelling. Prop the injured area higher than the heart.
When in doubt, seek medical attention for your child’s injury. Some injuries are more urgent than others.
Head trauma is very common in young children. Concussions can be very difficult to recognize. Signs and symptoms include: headache or pressure in the head, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, confusion or temporary loss of consciousness. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents call the child’s doctor for advice following anything more than a light bump on the head. Seek emergency care immediately if your child has repeat vomiting, loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 seconds, headaches getting worse over an extended period of time, or confusion recognizing people or places.
Although a perfect season for your athlete is never losing a game, a perfect season for many parents is getting through the season without an injury! When in doubt, visit with the experts at Huron Regional Medical Center regarding your child’s injury. Our physical therapy team provides quality care, close to home! For more information, call (605) 353-6253 or visit the rehabilitation page online.
Sources: nationwidechildrens.org, mayoclinic.org, aap.org
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