Preventing Kids' Sports Injuries

Ward off those sprains, strains, scrapes, and breaks.

All parents feel the need to protect their children. So when a son or daughter expresses an interest in sports, it's only natural that a parent be concerned about their child getting injured.

According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, more than 3 million children experience sports- and recreation-related injuries in the United States each year. The majority of these injuries aren't serious and many can be prevented with the use of proper equipment. Learn the essential information about why injuries occur, how to prevent them, and what to do if your child gets hurt.

Why are children prone to injury?

  • Children are less coordinated and have slower reaction times than adults.
  • Since kids mature at different rates, there can be a substantial difference in height and weight between children of the same age.
  • As children grow bigger and stronger, the potential for and severity of injury can increase.

What can I do to prevent my child from being injured?

  • Use proper equipment.
  • Take your child for a physical before participation.
  • Make sure there will be full-time supervision.
  • Send him off with ample fluids (a few bottles of water) to prevent dehydration.
  • Ensure that playing surfaces are maintained.
  • Insist on warm-ups and training sessions.

What are the common types of sports injuries?

  • Acute injuries: Includes bruises, sprains, broken bones, torn ligaments, concussions; often caused by improper equipment
  • Overuse injuries: Includes "Little League elbow," swimmer's shoulder, shin splints; may be the result of inadequate warm-up, excessive activity, improper technique, or unsuitable equipment
  • Re-injuries: The result of an athlete returning to play before a previous injury has healed.

What should I do if my child gets injured?

For acute injuries, a child should get immediate first-aid attention. If the injury appears to affect normal physical or mental function in any way, a visit to a pediatrician is essential.

Overuse injuries and re-injuries are the body's ways of saying there's a problem. Take your child to a pediatrician to get a prompt diagnosis necessary for quick healing. Often, the treatment involves modifying or temporarily eliminating the activity that caused the injury.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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