The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that approximately 3 million children and adolescents ages 14 and under are injured every year while playing sports or participating in other recreational activities. Furthermore, over 775,000 children and adolescents in this age range are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries. Falls, being struck by an object, collisions and overexertion cause most of the injuries.
Jon Divine, M.D., head team physician at the University of Cincinnati and previous director of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, offers parents some tips to ensure their children experience sports and other summer recreational activities safely.
Safety Equipment and Precautions
- Kids who play football, softball or baseball must wear a helmet to prevent concussions or other injuries. Ensure the helmet is well fitted; many injuries result when helmets are not used correctly or do not fit.
- Children should be instructed to immediately inform a coach or trainer if they feel dizzy or have a lapse in memory after taking a blow to the head.
- Young athletes who have symptoms affecting their thought processes after taking a blow to the head should not return to the same practice or game and should be evaluated by a physician prior to return to play.
- Young athletes with asthma should use preventative inhalers 20-30 minutes before exercise, do a gradual warm-up and should have a rescue inhaler available during practices and competition.
- Gradually increase the amount of time children spent outdoors in the heat and humidity so that they can become acclimating to hot-weather workouts. This process should begin about 10 days to 2 weeks before sports practices begin.
- To beat the heat, ensure children take breaks about every 10-15 minutes when playing sports outside. They also must drink plenty of fluids, wear light clothing and have limited exposure to the sun during the hottest part of the day.
- Take the child to shade or a cool area if heat illness is suspected. Expose their skin to ice or cold water and cool, circulating air to help them cool down as quickly as possible.