Participating in sports provides an excellent way for youngsters to remain physically fit, make friends and learn how to work as a team, but, despite all these benefits, there is a downside to activities that include running, sudden changes of direction and collisions with other players. Injuries are common and generally unavoidable, which means you should know what to do if your son or daughter is hurt while playing football, basketball, baseball, soccer or any other sport.
You should never let your child continue playing if he or she is in pain, and you should visit your family physician or the local hospital emergency room to take care of obvious injuries such as prolonged swelling, a broken bone, a joint dislocation or severe pain. For an ankle or knee sprain or strain, you might try the RICE method:
4 Rest – Don’t let your child use the injured area for at least two days.
4 Ice – Use a cold pack or a plastic bag filled with ice on the injured area for 15 or 20
minutes several times a day.
4 Compression – Use an elastic wrap or air cast to compress the injured joint and keep
the swelling down.
4 Elevation – Keep the injured area above heart level.
If none of this helps and the pain and swelling persist, take your child to see a medical professional.
A concussion is a much more serious issue than a strain or sprain; you should seek medical attention immediately for any child exhibiting the following symptoms:
4 Nausea or vomiting
4 Slurred speech
4 Loss of balance or memory
It’s never safe for a child to go back into a game or even to resume playing within a few days if a concussion is suspected; most doctors recommend resting for a week or more before returning to action.
Kids get hurt when they play sports, but there are things you can do to reduce the probability and severity of injuries:
4 Be sure your son or daughter has a physical exam before participating in sports.
4 Make certain your child will be using the appropriate safety gear, such as helmets, shin guards, mouth guards and athletic shoes that fit well.
4 Be certain your son or daughter warms up before games and practices, which will help reduce the risk of muscle pulls and strains.
4 Your son or daughter should participate in sports at the appropriate level. Don’t force your kids to play against older children if they lack the size, stamina or physical or emotional maturity to do so.
4 Encourage your children to take regular water breaks.
4 Pay attention to the possibility of overuse injuries, which are common when kids spend too much time doing the same thing over and over again. It’s probably a good idea for your children to play different sports throughout the year. For example, rather than participating in basketball from January through December, it might be better to opt for football in the fall, basketball in the winter and soccer or baseball in the spring.
If you plan ahead and prepare for possible injuries, sports can provide a rewarding experience for your children.