Playing It Safe

More than half of all injuries are preventable. Here’s how to protect your young athlete from...

Health Monitor Staff
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Prevent child sports injuries

and strains
A sprain is an injury to a ligament, a band of fibrous tissue that connects two or more bones and prevents excessive motion. An ankle sprain is common among kids. A strain, on the other hand, affects a muscle or a tendon, which connects muscle to bone.

How to prevent: Make sure your child’s shoes fit him well; that he warms up before participating in a sport, including practice; and that he wears appropriate protective gear, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Growth plate 
A growth plate is an area of 
developing tissue at the end of a bone—such as the forearm, fingers, and upper and lower leg—in children. When kids are done growing, growth plates are replaced by solid bone. Growth plates are the weakest areas of the growing skeleton, so they’re 
especially vulnerable to fracture.

How to prevent: Most growth plate injuries occur as a result of a sports-related accident, such as falling. Some, however, are caused by overuse.

Overuse injuries
If your child spends too much time playing a particular sport, he may experience a stress fracture (a minor break to a bone) or tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon). Although some of these injuries may not show up on an X-ray, they can be painful.

How to prevent: Children who play a sport for more hours per week than their age are 70% more likely to suffer from a serious overuse injury than other types of injuries, according to a new study of more than 1,200 young athletes by researchers at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. Your child should have at least one day off from sports per week, and he should take a break from competitive sports for one
to three months every year.  

Heat-related problems
Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are dangerous for kids.

How to prevent: Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids—ideally 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes—while actively engaged in a sport on a hot day. Have her wear light-colored, breathable clothing. Call her healthcare provider if 
she experiences any signs of heat-
related illness, such as nausea, 
confusion, dizziness and fainting.

Eye injuries
Children are vulnerable to eye 
injuries because they don’t have 
the same depth perception as adults, according to researchers at Loyola University Health System 
in Chicago.

How to prevent: Have your child wear protective eye gear, which can be purchased at an optical or sports store. 

August 2014