Many kids and teens participate in school sports programs each year. Along with the benefits of teamwork and physical fitness, however, comes the risk of injury.
Sports injuries send more than 2.6 million children to emergency rooms every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even if an injury isn’t serious enough for a trip to the hospital, it can cause pain and interfere with a child’s life.
“Serious injuries such as concussions and fractures are more prevalent in older kids and teens, as they start playing more aggressively. Even more common among young athletes, though, are overuse injuries such as sprains, strains and stress fractures,” says Aspirus Physical Therapist and local high school sports coach, Brett Gervais, PT,DPT, CSCS. “These can be reduced with guidance about proper conditioning and stretching, as well as equipment and technique.”
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) offers these guidelines for parents and coaches to help keep young athletes safe from injury:
- Make sure a trained coach is leading the sports program.
- Make sure practices include warm-up and cool-down times, rest periods and water breaks to help prevent dehydration and overheating.
- Enforce game rules and discourage dangerous or risky playing tactics.
- Don’t push kids too hard. Make sure they can handle the physical and emotional pressures of the sport.
- Check that facilities are maintained, and that protective equipment is in good shape, is used properly and fits well.
- Make sure each child has a preseason physical.
- Help children get in shape before the season begins. This helps prevent fatigue and injuries.
- Watch for signs of pain or problems during games.
“It’s important that all injuries are assessed and treated properly so kids can get back to their regular activities and avoid developing chronic pain or long-term injuries,” adds Gervais.
Aspirus providers can help diagnose and treat sports related injuries. Aspirus Health currently offers free 15-minute consultations with any physical, occupational or speech therapist. The consultations allow individuals to have an area or problem examined and to discuss whether therapy may be beneficial.
Visit aspirus.org for more information on outpatient therapy or to schedule a consult or appointment at an Aspirus Outpatient Therapy location near you.