Young Athletes: Injuries and Prevention,” James R. Andrews, a former president of the American Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), states, “The United States has experienced a tremendous rise in the number of young people taking up sport. Estimates show 3.5 million children aged 14 and under receive medical treatment for sport-related injuries, while high-school athletes account for another 2 million a year.” “This makes sports the leading cause of adolescent injury. Along with time away from school and work, these injuries can have far-reaching effects,” said Andrews. I think it’s important for kids to excel in sports and love the simple pursuit of play – while protecting kids health. One of the most important ways to promote this is to reduce the number of kids being sidelined from sports-related injuries. That’s why parents, coaches and young athletes should understand common sports injuries and how to prevent them. In addition to founding Fitness for Health, a state-of-the-art, therapeutic, fitness facility in the Washington, DC, region, I have been a Certified Athletic Trainer for almost 30 years. Here are my suggestions for preparing kids for athletic training and the demands of playing summer sports:
- Before playing organized sports, make sure your child receives a pre-participation physical exam, or PPE, performed by a doctor or a nurse practitioner or qualified clinician under the supervision of a physician. Whomever performs the exam, the same practices should be followed including the need for a medical history.
- Ensure kids warm-up and cool down. Stretching before and after practices and games can release muscle tension and help prevent sports-related injuries, such as muscle tears or sprains, and ensure bone and joint health.
- Encourage your athletes to drinks fluids (water is the best option) 30 minutes before the activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during activity in order to stay hydrated. Even if the child isn’t thirsty, insist he/she drink water.
- Know the signs of dehydration. Even mild dehydration can affect your child’s athletic performance and make him/her lethargic and irritable. Left untreated, dehydration increases the risk of other heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Remind your child that he or she should report signs and symptoms to the coach right away. Don’t let embarrassment keep your child on the field. If dehydration is detected early, fluids and rest might be all that’s needed. If your child seems confused or loses consciousness, seek emergency care.