Kids are back in school and that means they’ll be playing football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, gymnastics, cheerleading, etc. What are some of the most common injuries you see in regard to these sporting activities?
A lot of injuries can be sport specific. In general during the fall sports season we see things like ankle sprains and knee injuries such as meniscal or ACL tears. We also see a number of finger and hands injuries.
It is important to remember that kids can be injured during a variety of sports. This time of year parents tend to think about contact sports such as football or lacrosse, but boys and girls involved in all types of activities such as track, baseball, dance and cheerleading can be injured just as easily. Preparation is key before you enter your kids into fall sports activities.
2.What's the most important thing parents can do to ensure their child have a safe and healthy experience while participating in sports?
There are a couple of things parents and kids can do to help prevent injuries. Appropriate conditioning is very important. A lot of kids tend to relax over the summer and their bodies are not in shape or ready for fall sports activities roll around. Make sure kids stay active all year long so that they are conditioned and ready prior to starting sports in the fall. Proper nutrition and hydration is also key.
To prevent injuries parents need to also make sure that their children have proper athletic equipment. Whether that is proper knee braces, pads, helmets, shoes or other equipment, it is important to make sure that the equipment used is designed for the sport or activity your child participates in and that it fits appropriately. This goes for all types of sports, including dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, etc.
3.What are the symptoms of a concussion? Sprain? Break? Pulled muscle? How do I know whether to go to the doctor or the emergency room?
Concussion – A concussion can be mild to severe. A child may experience a complete loss of consciousness on the field. He or she may also experience headaches, nausea, become emotional and forgetful about what happened just prior to the play or incident.
Sprain – With a sprain your child will experience pain, tenderness or swelling. With most sprains your child will still be able to bear weight (although it may be painful).
Broken Bones – Broken bones can be obvious (i.e. bone sticking out of the skin), or your child may experience the same symptoms as a sprain, but it is extremely painful or impossible to bear weight on the affected area.
Pulled Muscle – Most patients will experience tenderness at the site of the muscle and will have a difficult time stretching.
The most important thing to do is pay attention to your child. If they are in a lot of pain and the affected area is swollen longer than three days, your child may have a small fracture or broken bone.
A lot of parents tend to have the mentality of telling a child to “rub some dirt on it” and get back on the field, but I think in many cases parents should err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if their child seems to be in a significant amount of pain. Oftentimes a missed injury can become more problematic if it isn’t properly treated.
4.What is the best way to treat these types of injuries while waiting to see the doctor? If I suspect a broken neck or other limb can I move my child?
For sprains and pulled muscles, I recommend using the RICE method - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
If you suspect a broken neck or broken limb, do not move your child and call 911. The child needs to remain very still until paramedics arrive. If your child is injured while wearing a helmet, do not remove it.
If your child has suffered a concussion it is a minimum of three weeks away from contact sport.
5.What else would you like the public to know about preventing sports injuries in kids?
For some great sport specific injury tips visit stopsportsinjuries.org. On that site you will find a wealth of information about how to prevent and treat injuries by sport.