Pre-season practices are underway, and a return to fall sports is upcoming as kids head back to school. Keeping your kid safe as they enjoy all that organized sports has to offer is a top priority for parents and coaches alike.
The majority of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice. Ask your child’s school what protocols are in place to help protect the kids, and confirm who is on the sports medicine staff to help prevent and manage injuries should they occur. Also ask about the school’s emergency action plan, and who is in charge in case a judgment call must be made about an athlete’s care.
Review team doctor and trainer credentials and find out who is responsible for caring for your child if he or she suffers an injury. Medical decisions should always be made by sports medicine professionals (physicians and athletic trainers) and not the coach or minor child. Athletes and coaches can be focused on winning over health, even unconsciously, and your child’s health should be the top priority if you are not available to make a call in a critical situation.
Find out who is in charge of ensuring equipment is properly maintained and safe to use, and coordinate with them to get your child properly equipped with safety gear for their chosen sport. Carefully check the fit of helmets and padded gears such as a football player’s shoulder pads.
Inquire if all coaches and school or volunteer staff interacting with your child have passed background checks. Also ask about certification in CPR, AED, and first aid. The school should have an AED and someone who knows how to use it should be available when practice is in session.
Get your child a pre-participation exam to determine their readiness to play and uncover any condition that might limit participation. Vigorous, sustained physical activity can cause previously unknown health conditions to present and cause a crisis. Share your young athlete’s medical history with your school sports officials so they have access and can pass the information on if needed to emergency medical personnel.
Remind your child about the dangers of dehydration and heat stroke and ensure they are hydrating properly at all times and wearing sunscreen when outdoors. If your child routinely returns from practice exhausted, flushed, and feeling unwell, ask to speak to their coach / trainer to discuss modifying their practice parameters.
Encourage your child to rotate sports activities to allow the body time to recover and limit their risk of overuse injuries. Young athletes should only be on one competitive team per sport.
Appropriate strength, flexibility and balance training, and the supervision of an athletic trainer can help your child have a fun, safe sports season and avoid injury or illness related to their sports activities.
Dr. Scott Strasburger partners with athletes, trainers, coaches, and athletic departments to provide guidance on sports safety. Contact Strasburger Orthopaedics to learn more.