Warmer weather brings more opportunity for children to play sports, and more opportunity for child sports injuries. The health benefits of an active lifestyle are well documented, for kids as well as adults, and your child can stay in great shape and avoid childhood obesity by participating in sports. Unfortunately, accidents happen, and sometimes those accidents are serious enough to require help from emergency services. It may not be possible to avoid all accidents, but there are some precautions you can take to help avoid child sports injuries.
Sports injuries in children make up about 40 percent of all sports injuries reported each year, and soft tissue traumas are the most common. Sprains are the biggest risk, followed by tendonitis or bursitis, then fractures or shin splints. Among more serious injuries, the most common threat is concussion, which can sometimes be fatal.
Why are young athletes at such risk for child sports injuries? Especially in children under age 8, coordination may be underdeveloped. Their reflexes are immature, and their judgment is not as developed as that of adults, so they may take unnecessary risks. In addition, children are sometimes unevenly matched against bigger opponents. Knowing these risks can help you make a plan to avoid common sports injuries.
- Choose a structured sports program, with supervision by qualified adults. A well-trained coach can help young athletes to prepare, and that preparation goes a long way toward the prevention of child sports injuries. A program that uses certified athletic trainers is also a good idea, because those trainers can help prevent and treat sports injuries.
- Make sure your child knows how to play the game. Pay attention to your child’s progress, because even the most reputable program may not be the right fit for every child. Sometimes, children need some extra attention, and being prepared and confident when it’s time to hit the field goes a long way toward preventing youth sports injuries.
- Be diligent about warm up and cool down. By warming up, an athlete prepares muscles for sports by increasing their flexibility. A cool down stretches out the muscles after a workout.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. Adequate fluids are important to keep a child hydrated during strenuous activities. Water is the best source of hydration, but sports drinks and juice can also keep your child’s body in good shape.
- Be sure the sport is a good match for your child. A child should play sports that fit his strengths, and that he enjoys. Also, opponents should be evenly matched physically, because mixing large and small children can contribute to the risk of child sports injuries.
- Insist on the appropriate equipment and playing surfaces. The right protective gear and a well-maintained playing surface are essential elements in a safe game. Refuse to risk your child’s safety by settling for less.
Even with the best training, preparation, and equipment, child sports injuries can sometimes happen. If you find yourself in need of emergency services for your child, consider First Choice ER. First Choice is a freestanding emergency room, fully equipped to handle adult and pediatric emergencies, and offers an alternative to traditional hospital emergency rooms. Visit the website to learn more, or connect with the online community on Facebook and Twitter.