With the arrival of Spring come the thoughts of outdoor activities, leaving behind the cold, dark days of winter and having some fun in the sun. Whether participating in structured sports like baseball, softball or soccer or just having fun in the neighborhood playground, preparation and encouragement for a child’s physical and emotional well-being is key. It’s more important than ever for kids to be active, and what they do in the way of physical activity today could set the stage for a lifetime of healthy habits.
Each year many sports-related injuries are treated in doctors’ offices and hospital emergency rooms. The Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper hopes these tips will help to keep your children safe and healthy this spring and summer:
- Allow proper time to warm up and stretch, as well as cool down and stretch post exercise.
- Equipment should fit properly and be worn correctly.
- Some sports may require facial and teeth protection devices.
- If your child is a pitcher – follow the league guidelines for the number of pitches and innings pitched per game or week.
- The playing field should be inspected for holes, glass and other debris.
- Coaches should be knowledgeable about first aid and able to administer it for minor injuries.
- Discuss with coach any medical condition that your child may have.
- Any injury that alters performance or function should be evaluated medically.
- Make sure your child drinks plenty of water during physical activity.
You worry about your child breaking a bone or spraining an ankle while doing a favorite sport. But your child is also at risk for concussions. Each year about 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries occur in our country, and most can be classified as concussions. This number could be much higher because many concussions go undiagnosed. Concussions can occur in any sport—and all are serious injuries. The following signs and symptoms are offered by our Bone & Joint Institute to help you recognize a possible concussion:
- Early symptoms are headaches, dizziness, confusion, ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting and visual changes.
- Not every child will experience these symptoms. Symptoms that can occur later include memory disturbances, poor concentration, irritability, sleep disturbances, personality changes and fatigue.
- Cognitive symptoms may include unawareness of what is happening around the child (e.g., game score, opponent or quarter if playing football), confusion, amnesia, loss of consciousness and inability to detect time, date or place.
- Physically, a child with a concussion may experience loss of consciousness, impaired conscious state, poor coordination or balance, convulsions/impact seizure, problems walking, slowness in answering questions or following directions, distraction, problems concentrating, nausea/vomiting, vacant stare, glassy eyes, slurred speech, personality changes and decreased playing ability.
Concussions are serious injuries. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you child has a concussion, as untreated symptoms may lead to complications, with some even being fatal.
For more information about concussions, including common questions many parents ask, be sure to read “Concussions In Sports: Knowing When To Stop Playing” on the Cooper Bone & Joint website @ www.cooperhealth.org/content/BJ/BoneAndJoint_Concussions.htm.