Many sports injuries can be prevented by the use of management tools that consider factors such as the environment of a particular sport and protection of the individual.
Environmental factors to be considered when planning sports activities include the following:
Protection of the individual includes the following:
Safety gear should be sport-specific and may include such items as goggles; mouthguards; shin, elbow, and knee pads and helmets. The safety gear worn by a child should fit properly. In addition, sports equipment (such as bats, baskets, and goals) should be in good working condition and any damage should be repaired or replaced. The playing area should be free from debris and water.
To make sure your child is physically fit to participate in a particular sport, your child's doctor should conduct a sports physical. These physicals can reveal your child's physical strengths and weaknesses and help determine which sports are appropriate. Most sports physicals for children include a health examination that measures height, weight, and vital signs, as well as check eyes, nose, ears, chest, and abdomen. In addition, your child's doctor may perform an orthopaedic examination to check joints, bones, and muscles.
Starting a child in sports too young will not benefit the child physically. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children begin participating in team sports at age 6, when they better understand the concept of teamwork. However, no two children are alike, and some may not be ready physically or psychologically to take part in a team sport even at age 6. A parent should base his or her decision on whether to allow the child to take part in a particular sport based on the following:
Note: AAP recommends that late-developing teens avoid contact sports until their bodies have developmentally "caught up" to their peers' bodies.
As your child participates in sports, he or she will sweat. This sweat must be replaced with equal amounts of fluids. Your child should drink fluids before, during, and after each practice or game. To avoid stomach cramps from drinking large amounts of fluids at once, encourage your child to drink about one cup of water (or a type of sports drink) every 15 to 20 minutes. Drinks to avoid include those with carbonation and caffeine. Also, watch children carefully when they are exercising in hot, humid weather as they can become dehydrated faster in these conditions. You should consider decreasing or stopping the activity when it is too hot.
The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
If your child exhibits signs of dehydration, make sure he or she receives fluids immediately, as well as a snack. The symptoms of dehydration may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
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