Participating in athletics can be an exciting, rewarding and important part of a child’s development. As children head back to school and fall sports get started, REMSA would like to remind you about some safety tips to keep your young athletes performing and feeling strong and healthy throughout the season.
• Enroll your child in organized sports through schools, community clubs, and recreation areas where there may be adults who are certified athletic trainers (ATC). An ATC is also trained in the prevention, recognition and immediate care of athletic injuries.
• Make sure your child uses the proper protective gear for a particular sport. This may reduce the chances of being injured.
• Warmup exercises, such as stretching and light jogging, can help minimize the chance of muscle strain or other soft tissue injury during sports. Warmup exercises make the body’s tissues warmer and more flexible. Cooling down exercises loosen the body’s muscles that have tightened during exercise. Make warmups and cool downs part of your child’s routine before and after sports participation.
• And don’t forget to include sunscreen and a hat (where possible) to reduce the chance of sunburn, which is actually an injury to the skin. Sun protection may also decrease the chances of malignant melanoma–a potentially deadly skin cancer–or other skin cancers that can occur later in life. It is also very important that your child has access to water or a sports drink to stay properly hydrated while playing.
Treat Injuries With “RICE”
If your child receives a soft tissue injury, commonly known as a sprain, strain or a bone injury, the best immediate treatment is easy to remember. “RICE” (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) the injury. Get professional treatment if any injury is severe. A severe injury means having an obvious fracture or dislocation of a joint, prolonged swelling, or prolonged or severe pain.
• Rest: Reduce or stop using the injured area for 48 hours. If you have a leg injury, you may need to stay off of it completely.
• Ice: Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, 4 to 8 times per day. Use a cold pack, ice bag, or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice that has been wrapped in a towel.
• Compression: Compression of an injured ankle, knee, or wrist may help reduce the swelling. These include bandages such as elastic wraps, special boots, air casts and splints. Ask your doctor which one is best.
• Elevation: Keep the injured area elevated above the level of the heart. Use a pillow to help elevate an injured limb.
Sprains and Strains
A sprain is an injury to a ligament–a stretching or a tearing. One or more ligaments can be injured during a sprain. A ligament is a band of tough, fibrous tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint and prevents excessive movement of the joint. Ankle sprains are the most common injury in the United States and often occur during sports or recreational activities. Approximately 1 million ankle injuries occur each year and 85 percent of these are sprains.
A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon. A muscle is a tissue composed of bundles of specialized cells that, when stimulated by nerve impulses, contract and produce movement. A tendon is a tough, fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscle to bone.
Growth Plate Injuries
In some sports accidents and injuries, the growth plate may be injured. The growth plate is the area of developing tissues at the end of the long bones in growing children and adolescents. When growth is complete, sometime during adolescence, the growth plate is replaced by solid bone. The long bones in the body are the long bones of the fingers, the outer bone of the forearm, the collarbone, the hip, the bone of the upper leg, the lower leg bones, the ankle, and the foot. If any of these areas become injured, seek professional help from a doctor who specializes in bone injuries in children and adolescents (pediatric orthopedist).
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Painful injuries such as stress fractures (where the ligament pulls off small pieces of bone) and tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon) can occur from overuse of muscles and tendons. These injuries don’t always show up on x-rays, but they do cause pain and discomfort. The injured area usually responds to rest. Other treatments include RICE, crutches, cast immobilization, or physical therapy.
Heat and Hydration – Playing It Safe Is Cool
Playing rigorous sports in the heat requires close monitoring of both body and weather conditions. Heat injuries are always dangerous and can be fatal. Children perspire less than adults and require a higher core body temperature to trigger sweating. Heat-related illnesses include dehydration (deficit in body fluids), heat exhaustion (nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, heavy perspiration, normal or low body temperature, weak pulse, dilated pupils, disorientation, fainting spells), and heat stroke (headache, dizziness, confusion, and hot dry skin, possibly leading to vascular collapse, coma, and death). These injuries can be prevented.
• Respond quickly if heat-related injuries occur.
• Schedule regular fluid breaks during practice and games.
• Drinking water is the best choice; others include fruit juices and sports drinks.
• Kids need to drink 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes, plus more after playing.
• Make player substitutions more frequently in the heat.
• Wear light-colored, “breathable” clothing, and wide-brimmed hats
• Use misting water sprays on the body to keep cool.
• Adapted with permission from Patient Care Magazine, copyrighted by Medical Economics.
Exercise Is Beneficial
Exercise reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes, a disease that is sometimes associated with a lack of exercise and poor eating habits.
As a parent, it is important for you to match your children to the sport, and not push him or her too hard into an activity that he or she may not like or be capable of doing. Sports also helps children build social skills and provides them with a general sense of well-being. Participation in an athelti program is an important part of learning how to build team skills.
*Information courtesy of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
To set up a media interview with a REMSA representative, please call Alexia Bratiotis at 775.750.7890.
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REMSA is a private, locally governed, non-profit emergency medical services provider serving northern Nevada since 1986. REMSA also comprises Care Flight, a regional, non-profit, air and ground critical care transport service, a Nevada-licensed, post-secondary educational institution, a state-of-the-art, fully accredited 9-1-1 dispatch communications center, a Tactical Emergency Medical Support team and community and special events EMS teams. REMSA provides quality patient care with no taxpayer support or other subsidies. For more information, visit remsahealth.com.