A new health center for children is helping stop injuries before they start and treating children for athletic injuries.
In December 2017, the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Sports Health Center opened in South Florida. It houses comprehensive treatment facilities for physical therapy, doctor visits, and injury prevention screenings.
A full 40 percent of emergency room visits for children are related to sports, which equal nearly one billion dollars in medical expenses every year. Experts say more injuries are occurring due to yearlong play in more intense sports programs. This is something that is exacerbated by the nice weather in Florida all year, which can entice children and parents to participate in more sports than ever before.
Below, we’re going to talk about what you can do to keep young Florida athletes from getting hurt.
Ways to Prevent Athletic Injuries in Kids and Teens
About 33 percent of children will experience a sports injury serious enough to cause them to miss at least one game. Here are the best tips for stopping injuries before they start.
Take Plenty of Breaks
Growing children need breaks between sports seasons. Doctors recommend two- to four-month breaks rather than year-round play. Resist the temptation to play back-to-back sports. Too much play can cause overuse injuries.
Start Off in Good Shape
Injuries are more likely to occur when kids begin a sport while out of shape. A few weeks of conditioning and strength training can prepare a child for a new sport. Stress fractures can result from pushing too hard too fast. Encourage your child to take his or her time when getting ready for a new sport.
Use Protective Gear
Mouth guards are great for protecting teeth and orthodontic work. Safety glasses are necessary in some sports. Helmets are a must for many different sports and help protect against concussions. Ankle braces and knee and elbow pads all protect against injury. Protective gear should be worn in practices too, because that’s where many child athlete injuries occur.
Choose Footwear Wisely
Depending on the sport, you may need a specialized shoe to play the game and avoid injuries. For basketball, high top shoes protect a child’s ankle. Cleats are standard for soccer, football, baseball, and other sports. Make sure that shoes have a good support system and sufficient traction to prevent slip and fall injuries.
Always Warm Up
Warm muscles are less likely to be injured. Have your child warm up before practices or games with stretches, jumping jacks, jogging in place, or other light activities.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
When a child is dehydrated, he or she may be more distracted or clumsy, which can lead to injuries. Have your child drink plenty of water or sports drinks before, during, and after practices or games. This is especially important on days when the sun is shining bright and hot. Signs of dehydration include dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and cramps, and may require medical treatment.
Use Good Technique
Children are still learning the basics of good technique. Encourage your child to follow the coach’s instructions and play only in their assigned position.
Play by the Rules
Teaching your child good sportsmanship will also head off injuries. When your child follows the rules, everyone is safer.
Watch Out for Others
Your child needs to be aware of his or her teammates and other players to avoid injury. Give your child tips on how to be more aware while playing and practicing, and encourage your child to communicate with other team members.
Have Help at the Ready
Make sure a first-aid kit is present at every practice and game in case an injury happens. Keep your phone charged in case you need to call for emergency medical help.
Use a similar stretching routine to help muscles relax after playing.
Provide Times of Rest
Many children are not getting enough rest each night, nor are they getting enough rest between sports performances. One day off per week is a good measure. Make rest a high priority in your household and you will prevent injuries related to fatigue.
Don’t Play Through Pain
Teach your child to stop playing as soon as pain is felt. Injuries can worsen if your child plays through the pain. Get treatment for your child as soon as possible.
If your child has been injured, follow doctor’s orders before resuming play. Returning too soon could prolong the recovery period.
Not All Kids’ Sports Injuries Can Be Avoided
Even if you do everything in your power to minimize the chances of your kid getting hurt while playing a sport, it’s possible that an injury may still occur. Sometimes freak accidents happen. Other times, they may be hurt due to the negligent actions of another.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.