Got active kids? Here's how you can keep them safe on the playing field

Partners Post, January 2015

With more than 38 million children and adolescents participating in sports in the United States, there are bound to be some injuries. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the most common types of sport-related injuries among children are sprains, muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and heat-related illness.

Sports InjuryBecause children's bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing, they are more susceptible to injury. The most injuries are seen in bicycling, basketball, football, and roller sports, although injuries can happen in any sport.

There are measures that can be taken to limit potential injuries when your child participates in school sports.

Stay hydrated. Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids before, during, and after a sporting activity. This will prevent dehydration and can ward off heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 5 oz. for an 88-pound child and 9 oz. for a 132-pound adolescent, every 20 minutes. It is also important to recognize the signs of dehydration. Symptoms range from muscle cramping to faintness and dizziness, nausea and rapid heartbeat to collapse, emotional instability to very high body temperature. While at play, children generate more heat than adults but also sweat less, which makes them more susceptible to dehydration.

Avoid overuse injuries. Sports overuse injuries are becoming more common as intensity of sport participation rises. Overuse injuries can be very subtle, making their detection difficult. Consider a pre-season program for your child to allow for gradual increase in intensity. This allows the body to rest, rebuild, recover, and avoid injury. Stretching prior to practice and games, after 10 minutes of jogging or light activity, is crucial to injury prevention. In addition, allow for rest with an off-season and one or two days off each week during a season.

Protect against concussions. Concussions are an area of concern at all levels of play. Ensure your child wears the correct protective equipment for his/her activity, and that it fits properly, is well maintained, and is worn consistently and correctly. Encourage your child to practice good sportsmanship and to follow the rules of the sport to ensure safe play. It is also helpful to learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion. These include appearing dazed or stunned, loss of consciousness, and sensitivity to light or noise. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website for a full list of symptoms. If you believe your child has suffered a concussion, seek medical treatment right away.

For more tips on how to keep your active child safe, visit Safe Kids Worldwide.



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