Preparing for School Sports Participation and Preventing Injuries By: Dr. Eileen Shi
An approaching new school year is an opportunity for many families to consider sports participation in programs offered in the communities and schools. At HealthCare Partners, we believe getting your child involved in sports and activities is a great way to build physical and mental strength, to introduce healthy challenge and to encourage commemorative interactions with peers. However, activities can bring injuries that are common even in the most well-prepared participants. We hope to delineate some of the most common and overlooked risks here to help our families achieve an injury-free experience with sport participation.
Exercising on a regular basis have been shown to improve over-all health and mental acuity. Summertime offers a break from school routines to try out new sports and activities to discover what they enjoy to do outdoors. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend limiting the amount of time children spends in front of TV's and computer screens to prevent long periods of sedentary lifestyle and to encourage children to engage in fitness activities. Regular exercise for children fortifies a foundation for children to be active throughout their lives and build healthy habits that protects that from many chronic conditions such as childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.
There are many potential injuries that can occur during sport participation. Each year, nearly 9 million pediatric patients are treated in emergency departments for unintentional injuries, including sports-related injuries. Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to injury because of their natural curiosity, inexperience, size and immature development. The most commonly encountered sports-related injury are sprains, strains, injuries from repetitive and overuse motion, dehydration and heat-related illnesses.
Families can take simple steps to prevent such issues. These include ensuring that children are dressed in sport-appropriate protective gear, such as a fitted helmet, mouth and wrist guards. Stretching before and after intense physical activity also helps prevent overuse-related injuries. In addition, staying hydrated throughout physical activity especially when outdoors is pivotal to prevent the onset of heat-related illness such as dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Most medical and sport professionals recognize the importance of sports physical prior to starting a new competitive season. This medical exam can be key to identifying underlying conditions that might affect a youth's ability to compete and allows for monitoring the status of prior injuries.
HealthCare Partners Nevada clinics are happy to provide sports physicals, which we also encourage parents to schedule early this year. Many schools require students to undergo a sports physical before they can try out for a team. Scheduling these physicals early int he year can help ensure that your children can pursue their preferred sport without delay and restrictions.
If injuries do occur, parents should be careful with determining if medical treatment is necessary before returning to practice. This is especially important with young children who cannot always communicate the severity and nature of their injuries. If symptoms such as swelling, scrapes or bruising do not show improvement in 2-3 days, parents should take their children to see a pediatrician to assess the extent of the injury. If a child loses consciousness, a visit to the emergency department is necessary.
HealthCare Partners Nevada offers multiple locations, and our physicians are happy to answer questions about children's general health and safety.