Youth Sports Safety 101

By , By Barbara Brody, of Woman's Day

Millions of young athletes get broken bones, sprains and other injuries each year. Here's what you need to know to keep them safe.

1. Get a pre-participation physical exam. Taking your child for a checkup before the sports season is essential. “Basically a ‘well-child’ checkup, this is especially important for kids who play sports, because exerting the body during a game or practice may cause a previously undetected problem—like a heart condition—to crop up,” explains Stephen Daniels, MD, PhD, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Make sure the doctor reviews your child’s medical history and thoroughly examines him, including measuring his blood pressure and listening to his heart. The doctor should also make sure that your child’s muscles and joints are in good shape.

2. Encourage kids to cross-train. “Overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, occur because you’re repetitively using one body part, which doesn’t give it the downtime to repair itself,” says Margot Putukian, MD, a team physician at Princeton University and a spokeswoman for the American College of Sports Medicine. If your child is very focused on one sport, make sure that her training also incorporates activities that work different muscles. For example, if your daughter runs track, urge her to add swimming to her regimen.

3. Confirm that AEDs (automated external defibrillators) are available at practices and all games, says Brian Robinson, ATC, chairman of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Secondary School Committee. These devices can be lifesaving if a student goes into cardiac arrest (the heart stops beating due to an electrical problem), because they deliver a shock that restarts the heart’s normal rhythm.

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It's great to see someone reminding us how important it is to cross-train! Another important tip is to make sure that your kids are exercising "right." That means using correct form, wearing the right safety equipment, and paying attention to signals from their bodies. Report
My children are all adults. My son did get hit by a car while out bike riding & he hadn't listened to me to go the back streets. He wasn't hurt to bad, but had his toes cut & lost his big toenail, because he was wearing flappies. I'd told him to wear good shoes. The car just hit the back part of his bike tire & threw him over on to the payment. He was lucky. Report
Educate yourself about concussions. The first one may seem minor but the next could be life changing if it occurs too soon. The NFHS offers a free online course for parents/coaches/students on concussion safety: Report
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