In 2012, more than 1.35 million children under age 19 were seen in emergency departments for injuries related to commonly played sports. While sports can be a great way for children to get exercise and learn about teamwork, there are things parents and coaches need to know to keep kids safe before practice starts.
Jennifer Brey, M.D., is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville. She treats kids from as young as age 6 to as old as age 18 who have sustained sports-related injuries.
“Some of the younger children come in with broken wrists and ankles, but as we get into the teenage years we see kids with more serious injuries, such as ACL tears and meniscus injuries,” Dr. Brey said.
While Dr. Brey explains that injuries can’t be prevented 100 percent of the time, there are certainly steps that parents and coaches can take to keep young athletes as safe as possible. Below is a list of tips she suggests before starting any team sport this upcoming season:
- Before starting a sport, be sure your child has a pre-participation physical exam performed by a doctor. This will rule out any potential medical conditions or current injuries that may pose a risk for your child.
- Make sure your child’s coach has contact information for both parents and your physician. Any allergies or past medical conditions should be explained to the coach prior to the start of the season.
- HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! Make sure your child drinks plenty of water before, during and after practice and games. Never go without a water bottle.
- Both parents and coaches should know the signs of common ailments that can be brought on by playing sports, such as dehydration, heat illness and concussion.
- Make sure your child properly stretches and warms up before practices and games to prevent muscle tears and sprains.
- Encourage your child to speak up during practice or games if he or she experiences pain or feels sick. Sometimes overuse injuries can be prevented by taking some time to rest in between practice days or games.