Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
More than 20 million children participate in organized sports in the United States. With this many children participating in recreational activities, it is no wonder that almost 775,000 children are treated in Emergency Rooms for sports-related injuries each year.
There are several factors that increase the chance that your child will be injured while playing sports. Children are still growing and developing, have slower reaction times and are less coordinated than adults. Also, there can be big differences in the height and weight of children that are the same age because each child grows at a different pace and size differences increase injury risk.
Steps that can reduce the chance of becoming injured while playing sports include getting preseason physical examinations, knowing and following the rules of the sport, wearing protective gear, warming up, not playing when tired or in pain, drinking enough water, and focusing on having fun, rather than winning.
Sports-related injuries are classified as acute (one-time) or chronic (overuse). Acute injuries happen suddenly and include minor bruises, strains, sprains, as well as more severe injuries, such eye injuries (scratched corneas, detached retinas, and blood in the eye), broken bones, and brain injuries (concussions, skull fractures, brain hemorrhages, and spinal cord injuries).
Chronic injuries happen when stress is put on the musculoskeletal system due to repetitive action, such as throwing a ball. Common types of overuse injuries include anterior knee pain (pain and swelling in front of the knee under the kneecap), Little League elbow (tenderness in the elbow caused by repetitive throwing), and shin splints (pain and discomfort in the front of the lower leg).
If your child does get hurt and has a sprain, a strain, or a bone injury, the best immediate treatment is “RICE”, which means:
Rest (Reduce or stop using the injured area for at least 48 hours)
Ice (Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, 4 to 8 times per day)
Compression (Use elastic wraps, air casts or splints on an injured ankle, knee, or wrist may help reduce the swelling)
Elevation (Keep the injured area elevated above the level of the heart).
The RICE technique is only for immediate treatment. If the injury is severe, meaning that if your child has an obvious broken bone, dislocation of a joint, swelling or pain that has lasted for a long time he or she will need to see a doctor.
Sports are a big part of many children’s lives and benefits include exercising, making friends, having fun, learning to play as a part of a team, learning to play fair, and improving self-esteem. With all of these wonderful benefits, it is often easy to overlook the potential dangers that your child may face. Make sure that your child knows the rules of the game and how to use the equipment properly so that he or she can have fun and avoid potentially serious injuries.