Here are 10 tips to help reduce the risk of youth sports injuries in kids in honor of National Youth Sports Safety Month. For many kids, playing organized sports is an important part of growing up. Sports can teach healthy habits, teamwork, and playing outside keeps kids active. However, orthopedic surgeons have noticed two alarming trends related to organized sports: overuse injuries are occurring at younger ages, and the overall number of youth sports injuries is at an all-time high.
Every day, 3,400 kids go to the emergency room for sports-related injuries. This equates to about 1.24 million kids per year with injuries significant enough to seek emergency medical attention. Injuries are the highest for athletes ages 15-17. According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, 62% of sports injuries happen during practice. Though some of these injuries include minor scrapes or sprains, there can be significant health risks associated with youth sports activities.
Parents can do several things to minimize a child’s risk of sports injury:
- Help your kids warm up before games by stretching, jogging, or doing other light activity to get the body ready for more intense play. Studies show that having a good warm up routine helps reduce injuries, especially those caused by overuse.
- Schedule a physical exam before your child participates in any organized sport. This will allow a physician to identify any existing medical conditions and make appropriate recommendations to avoid risk.
- Pack a water bottle for both practice and games. Teach kids the importance of drinking water before, during, and after play.
- Make sure both you and your kids know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Symptoms of overheating include headache, confusion dizziness, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, lack of sweating, and shortness of breath.
- Encourage kids to take days off during the season, as well as months off during the year. This will help prevent overuse injuries that may lead to more significant injuries in the future.
- Seek medical attention for any pain or symptoms that kids develop. A medical professional can determine whether a child can continue playing and how to do so safely.
- Emphasize good mechanics and control practice habits. For example, kids should not pitch on consecutive days and should rotate positions regularly to avoid overuse.
- Make sure coaches or gym teachers are aware of any allergies or conditions the child has. Make sure coaches know about and have access to any rescue medications the child needs, such as an inhaler or epi-pen.
- It is also important that coaches are certified in first aid and CPR and can recognize the signs of concussion, heat stroke, and other serious medical issues that may arise during play.
- Teach kids to stop playing if they experience pain. Sports injuries can be either acute, a sudden injury or onset of pain, or from overuse, such as tennis elbow or swimmer’s shoulder. Make sure kids understand that playing through the pain may result in a more severe injury.
For parents, nothing is more important than their child’s health. It is important that parents educate themselves about the risk of sports injuries, as well as the types of programs kids are playing with. Parents should advocate for high safety standards for sports programs and should help kids develop healthy habits to reduce the risk of sports injuries. Avoiding sexual assault in sports is a topic we’ve discussed before. If you or your family have a legal question, feel free to contact Koller Trial Law for a free consultation.