As a new season of school sports and youth leagues gets underway, medical professionals are gearing up for the sprained ankles, skinned knees, broken arms and other injuries that inevitably come with the games.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 80 percent of sports-related injuries in children result from playing football, basketball, baseball or soccer. Two-thirds of those injuries are soft-tissue injuries, including sprains and strains. Only 5 percent of children's sports injuries involve broken bones.
Dr. Randolph Cohen, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, said there used to be a high season for sports injuries, but no more. "It used to be the beginning of football and cheerleading season, but now it's year round,'' he said.
But using a little advance preparation, the right equipment and smart training habits can lessen injuries, medical experts say. Here are some tips for parents and coaches:
WHAT CAUSES INJURIES
Kids are more susceptible to sports injuries for a few reasons. Young children are less coordinated and have slower reaction times. Their bones are still growing and are more fragile, said Cohen, who also
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sports Injuries, The Reality
WebMD: Treating Sports Injuries
Find after-school sports and activities for your kids in our After-school/Sports forum.
works with the U-18 Sports Medicine program at Memorial Hospital Miramar. Plus, when big and small kids play together, there's more chance of injury. And as kids grow bigger, the potential for injury increases because there is more force.
MOST COMMON INJURY
Overuse, said Dr. Cohen. "When I was a kid, I played maybe one sport. Now it's a whole different world, and kids play year-round. They play soccer at school and at the playground. They go to soccer camp and play on a traveling team. We're playing them like little professionals,'' he said.
The remedy is simple, he said. Maintain the body better. That means rest, cross-training and varying training methods to eliminate repetitive motion. Make sure the sport matches your child's physical capabilities.
MOST DANGEROUS SPORTS
Football and cheerleading. "We see a lot of injuries in cheerleading because it has become a true sport, and they wear no protective gear,'' Dr. Cohen said. Soccer and basketball are the next injury-prone. The safest are swimming and track.
- If there is pain, stop the activity and isolate the injury. Evaluate the extent of the injury. If the child cannot move a limb or is in great pain, seek medical treatment.
- Have a first aid kit handy, with ice packs and splinting material available in case a limb needs to be immobilized.
- Remember R.I.C.E. to reduce inflammation after a sudden injury. • Rest: Stop using the injured limb for 48 hours.
• Ice: Ice the injury for 20 minutes several times a day.
• Compression: Wrap an injured area to reduce swelling, if needed.
• Elevation: Elevate the injured limb above the heart.