Childhood Sports Injuries and Their Prevention (cont.)

Growth Plate Injuries

In some sports accidents and injuries, the growth plate may be injured. The growth plate is the area of developing tissues at the end of the long bones in growing children and adolescents. When growth is complete, sometime during adolescence, the growth plate is replaced by solid bone. The long bones in the body are the long bones of the fingers, the outer bone of the forearm, the collarbone, the hip, the bone of the upper leg, the lower leg bones, the ankle, and the foot. If any of these areas become injured, seek professional help from a doctor who specializes in bone injuries in children and adolescents (pediatric orthopaedist).

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Painful injuries such as stress fractures (where the ligament pulls off small pieces of bone) and tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon) can occur from overuse of muscles and tendons. These injuries don't always show up on x-rays, but they do cause pain and discomfort. The injured area usually responds to rest. Other treatments include RICE, crutches, cast immobilization, or physical therapy.

Heat And Hydration - Playing It Safe Is Cool

Playing rigorous sports in the heat requires close monitoring of both body and weather conditions. Heat injuries are always dangerous and can be fatal. Children perspire less than adults and require a higher core body temperature to trigger sweating. Heat-related illnesses include dehydration (deficit in body fluids), heat exhaustion (nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, heavy perspiration, normal or low body temperature, weak pulse, dilated pupils, disorientation, fainting spells), and heat stroke (headache, dizziness, confusion, and hot dry skin, possibly leading to vascular collapse, coma, and death). These injuries can be prevented.

Playing safe in the heat is cool

  • Recognize the dangers of playing in the heat.
  • Respond quickly if heat-related injuries occur.
  • Schedule regular fluid breaks during practice and games.
  • Drinking water is the best choice; others include fruit juices and sports drinks.
  • Kids need to drink 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes, plus more after playing.
  • Make player substitutions more frequently in the heat.
  • Wear light-colored, "breathable" clothing, and wide-brimmed hats
  • Use misting water sprays on the body to keep cool.

*Adapted with permission from Patient Care Magazine, copyrighted by Medical Economics.

Exercise Is Beneficial

Even though Raoul got hurt, his involvement in sports is important. Exercise may reduce his chances of obesity, which is becoming more common in children. It may also lessen his risk of diabetes, a disease that is sometimes associated with a lack of exercise and poor eating habits.

As a parent, it is important for you to match your children to the sport, and not push him or her too hard into an activity that he or she may not like or be capable of doing. Sports also helps children build social skills and provides them with a general sense of well-being. Sports participation is an important part of learning how to build team skills. For more, please visit the Fitness Center.

Sports Injury And Prevention

Raoul's mother may not be able to protect him from all sports injuries, but she now knows that she may be able to reduce his risk of injury by using preventive measures. She knows how important it is to know which sports are more likely to cause injury than others. In addition, she checks the condition of the athletic area where the sports are to be played. She makes sure it is properly maintained.

The following "sports scorecard" shows winning ways to help prevent an injury from occurring (so you are less likely to get that alarming phone call like Raoul's mom did).

Football

This popular sport "leads the pack" in the number of injuries, especially in boys, in organized sports.

  • Common injuries and locations: Bruises, sprains, strains, pulled muscles, soft tissue tears such as ligaments, broken bones, internal injuries (bruised or damaged organs), back injuries, sunburn. Knees and ankles are the most common injury sites.
  • Safest playing with: Helmet; mouth guard; shoulder pads; athletic supporters for males; chest/rib pads; forearm, elbow, and thigh pads; shin guards; proper shoes; sunscreen; water.
  • Prevention: Proper use of safety equipment, warm-up exercises, proper coaching and conditioning.

Basketball

This popular sport has the highest rate of knee injuries requiring surgery among girls.

  • Common injuries and locations: Sprains, strains, bruises, fractures, scrapes, dislocation, cuts, dental injuries. Ankles, knees (injury rates are higher in girls, especially for the anterior cruciate ligament, the wide ligament that limits rotation and forward movement of the shin bone), shoulder (rotator cuff strains and tears, where tendons at the end of muscles attach to the upper arm and shoulder bones).
  • Safest playing with: Eye protection, elbow and knee pads, mouth guard, athletic supporters for males, proper shoes, water. If playing outdoors, add a hat and sunscreen.
  • Prevention: Strength training (particularly knees and shoulders), aerobics (exercises that develop the strength and endurance of heart and lungs), warmup exercises, proper coaching, and use of safety equipment.


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