JP Kids: How to avoid school sports injuries

October 12, 2012
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As kids gear up for the fun and teamwork of school sports, they are also at risk for preventable injuries, according to doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Nearly 50 percent of all football players sustain an injury each season, and there is an increasing frequency of head trauma and concussions in soccer players. With students juggling numerous sports throughout the year, more players are also suffering from overuse injuries.

“It’s tempting for players to play through pain, but toughing it out may lead to more serious injuries,” said Dr. Benton Heyworth of the Orthopedic Center and Sports Medicine Program at Boston Children’s. “Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid the dangerous path to chronic injuries.”

Dr. William Meehan, director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children’s, said that “most common injuries can be prevented when players train properly, play by the rules and wear the right equipment. Football, soccer and other popular youth sports are important for maintaining good physical health and do not have to be dangerous if player safety is kept top of mind.”

Boston Children’s offers the following tips for young athletes to stay safe:

  • Prepare: A pre-season exam can spot existing injuries, the presence of concussion symptoms, or heart and lung problems that put athletes at risk for injury.
  • Warm up: Always warm up before practices and games to get the blood flowing and muscles loose.
  • Know the sport: Injuries often occur when players are out of position, confused about assignments or playing outside the rules. Young, inexperienced players need to study their playbooks and understand exactly what they are supposed to do and where they are supposed to be on every play.
  • Prevent stress fractures: Wearing unsupportive or ill-fitting shoes, using incorrect playing techniques, training improperly, or training intensively after a sedentary period can lead to lower-extremity stress fractures.
  • Watch for concussions: Players with concussions may feel dizzy, have headaches and vision problems, and experience nausea or vomiting. Concussion symptoms aren’t always obvious, so coaches, staff and parents should pay close attention for at least 24 hours after a player has been hit in the head.

For more information on preventing sports injuries, call 617-355-3501 or visit childrenshospital.org/sportsmed.

From press materials.

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