Playing it safe with summer sports

It’s finally summertime! Kids are outside playing more, have joined extracurricular sports, and school athletic teams will start summer practices. This is a good time to review how to keep kids injury-free while playing sports.

The most common types of sport-related injuries are sprains, muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries and heat-related illnesses.

“Kids are especially susceptible to overuse injuries, which affect muscles and joints,” said Ryan J. Krupp, M.D., orthopaedic specialist. “Parents should pay close attention to how much time their kids are playing and if they are taking breaks often enough.”

Also be sure kids are dressed appropriately for the weather and activity. Don’t forgo helmets and safety equipment because it’s hot. Instead, be sure kids take frequent breaks indoors or in other cool spots and drink enough water to stay hydrated.

Kids should drink water 30 minutes before playing and every 15 to 20 minutes during activity. Don’t wait for kids to tell you they are thirsty; establish regular water breaks. It’s also imperative that safety equipment is always used, fits well and is in good working order.

“For athletes ages 15 to 24, sports injuries are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury,” said Tad Seifert, M.D., neurologist. “Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce that risk of brain injury in most cases.”

Finally, find out if coaches are trained in first aid and CPR, and know the signs of concussion. They also should have a plan for responding to emergencies. Sports programs with adults on staff who are certified athletic trainers are ideal because certified athletic trainers are trained to prevent or provide immediate care for sports injuries.

Sports can be a fun way for children and teens to learn new skills, interact with others and participate in physical activity to stay fit. Just take some precautions so they enjoy a long and healthy summer.

–Jennifer Reynolds


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