When your sign-up your son or daughter for youth sports, you do that knowing that they will get bumps and bruises from time to time. However, will you know what to do for your child should the injury be more serious in nature? Unfortunately, over 1.25 million kids end up in the emergency room of a hospital as the result of a sports-related injury. Here is what you can do to help keep your student-athlete safe.
Sports physical – A regular routine sports physical is the best way to start, even before your child laces up those sneakers or cleats. Your physician will take a detailed account of any previous injuries, medical conditions, and also their family history. They will also inquire as to what type of sports they will be participating in. Then they will be ready for a thorough exam from head-to-toe. This is also an opportune time to make sure those vaccines are up-to-date.
Here's what you need to do - Here is how to be prepared the next time your child gets hurt with four common sports-related conditions, the symptoms to look for, and how to treat them.
- Strains and sprains- What is the difference between a strain and a sprain? A sprain is an injury that causes stretching or tearing to the ligament in the joint. A strain, commonly known as a pulled muscle, is an injury that causes stretching and tearing of the muscle. Strains are generally treated with rest, heat or cold. It is also helpful to note that physical therapy can help sometimes too. Sprains, however, will need important rapid physical therapy and the return of range-of-motion exercises because it helps get kids back moving to their normal activities faster than using crutches or resting in bed. In severe cases of a sprain, your child's physician may suggest surgery based of the location of the sprain and the condition of the ligament.
- Heat exhaustion - The best way to prevent heat-related illnesses is to avoid being outside during the heat of the day. If there is a game or practice, then be sure that your child wears loose fitting clothing, wears sunscreen that will protect against UVA and UVB rays, and, of course, stays hydrated. For activities that last less than an hour, water is fine, but when the activities last longer than an hour, they will need electrolytes from drinks such as Gatorade, G2, Powerade or Pedialyte.
Here are the symptoms for heat exhaustion: weakness, headache, heavy sweating and cool, clammy skin. Your need to move your child to a cool place and rehydrate immediately. If the child's symptoms do not improve within 30 minutes, contact a physician.
- Heat stroke - This is a very serious condition that will require emergency care. Symptoms of a heat stroke include: hot, dry skin, a high fever, vomiting, and possibly loss of consciousness. You should take your child to the emergency room immediately if they have any of these signs.
- Concussion - A concussion can occur when a hit the head or other part of the body causes the brain to be jolted inside the skull. Symptoms of a concussion include: headache, blurry vision or dizziness; more severe signs may include seizures and worsening headaches, as well as strange behavior or pronounced confusion. If your child potentially has a concussion, they need to be evaluated by a healthcare professional either at the sports activity facility or in an emergency room. A lot of leagues, clubs, teams, etc. already have a protocol in place for head injuries. Kids with concussion rarely need a CT scan of the brain and are only needed if symptoms are very severe, causing concern for possible bleeding in the brain. The good news is that most concussions are mild and symptoms generally go away within 3-4 weeks. As your child recovers from a concussion, you should limit exposure to TV, tablets, cell phones, computers or gaming if they are having bad headaches, dizziness, double or blurry vision. Don't force rest, they can be up and about with family and returning to school as soon as they start to feel better but should not return to sports until cleared from the concussion by a doctor.
"Sports are healthy for kids and can be made safer if parents prepare themselves by knowing how to recognize and respond to potential injuries," says Sue Kirelik,MD, medical director for the Center for Concussion at Rocky Mountain Pediatric OrthoONE.
Coach your child - Kids tend to be prone to athletic injuries because they lack the inherent fear of getting hurt that adults have. And while your little athlete may think that he is the next John Elway, they should not push themselves beyond their limits. Remember, raising a young athlete is definitely a team effort and it includes the parents, coaching staff, and healthcare professionals teaching your child the importance of regular, safe sports practice, to include conditioning, flexibility, and strength training.