Page 20 - Middlesex Health & Life - Fall 2012 Issue

SEASONAL
HEALTH
SHUTTERSTOCK
PARTICIPATING IN SPORTS
offers several benefits: exercise, camara-
derie, lessons in commitment and—most
of all—fun. Perhaps the only negative is
the possibility of injury. And that’s where
smart parents and coaches come in.
Every sport has an injury risk, says
Kenneth Swan Jr., M.D., an orthopedic
surgeon affiliated with Saint Peter’s Univer-
sity Hospital and the CARES Surgicenter,
both members of Saint Peter’s Health-
care System. The good news is that the
vast majority of injuries are minor ones,
such as sprains and strains of muscles,
tendons and ligaments. Broken bones
and concussions are always a playing-
field danger, but they’re less common.
The best way to avoid injury is to get
in shape early,” says Dr. Swan. “Kids
should engage in both aerobic activities
and strength training before the season
starts.” Training should include activities
different from the sport—runners should
ride a bike, for example, and football
players might swim or play tennis. This is
called cross-training, and it ensures that
all parts of the body receive conditioning,
Dr. Swan says. Once the season begins,
kids should take time to warm up, with
lots of stretching of muscles, before their
practices or games and cool down with
more stretching afterward, he says.
Finally, lace-up ankle braces worn under
the sneakers can help prevent sprains.
Minor injuries can be treated at home
with the time-tested “RICE” regimen:
rest, ice, compression and elevation.
More serious injuries require treatment
right away at a hospital emergency room
or an urgent-care clinic.
How do you know if an injury requires
medical attention? If your child suffers a
concussion—a blow to the head that is
followed by headache, confusion, dou-
ble or blurry vision, balance problems,
a sluggish feeling, nausea or vomiting,
sensitivity to light or noise or loss of con-
sciousness—he or she should not return
to play until checked out and OK’d by a
medical professional. “Fortunately, most
concussions are mild,” says Dr. Swan,
but err on the side of caution because a
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FALL
2012
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PROTECT YOUR YOUNG ATHLETES
FROM SCHOOL SPORTS INJURIES
repeat concussion can be dangerous.”
Neck injuries, which are common in
football and soccer, can also be severe.
If there is any spinal cord involvement
meaning loss of motor or sensory
function or severe neck pain, or a tingling
in the extremities—these injuries need
careful treatment by trained paramedics
or athletic trainers,” says Dr. Swan.
Also requiring immediate attention
are broken bones (sometimes marked
by a snapping sound and often followed
by pain, swelling or deformity), open
fractures, dislocations of joints (and
tears such as those of the anterior cru-
ciate ligament in the knee) and anything
that affects circulation to the hand or
foot, such as a severe knee or shoulder
injury.
DAVID LEVINE
CUT YOUR CHILD’S
INJURY RISK
Make sure your young athletes:
Take time off.
Kids should plan
at least one day off per week from a
sport to allow the body to recover.
Wear the right gear.
Players
should wear appropriate and prop-
erly fitting protective equipment such
as pads, helmets, mouthpieces, face
guards, protective cups and eyewear.
Use proper techniques.
Rules
against dangerous plays, such as
tackling with the head in football,
should be strictly enforced.
Take breaks.
Rest periods during
practice and games can reduce inju-
ries and prevent heat illness.
Don’t play with pain.
Athletes
should retreat to the sidelines if
they’re hurting.
Avoid becoming overheated.
Kids
need to drink plenty of fluids before,
during and after exercise or play and
should limit activity in extreme heat.
Learn the signs of concussion.
Players must speak up when a team-
mate exhibits concussion symptoms.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
HELP KIDS PLAY
SAFE