Back to School: Preventing Sports Injuries

Aug 15, 2011, 4:16 PM, Posted by

Today, as many school sports begin practices, officials remind parents, children and coaches to take precautions to prevent sports injuries. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), about three million children and adolescents ages 14 and under are injured each year playing sports or participating in recreational activities, and more than 775,000 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for these types of injuries.

Jon Divine, M.D., previously director of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and now head team physician at the University of Cincinnati, says one way to reduce injuries is to help kids get and stay in shape before tryouts and practice begins. Additional tips:

  • Acclimate children to hot weather workouts by gradually increasing time outdoors in the heat and humidity about ten days to two weeks before official practice begins to help prevent heat injuries.
  • Make sure children drinking plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks: every 10-15 minutes while they play outdoor sports.
  • Young athletes with asthma should check with their physician about using an inhaler preemptively, and should make sure to have an inhaler easily and immediately accessible during practice and games.
  • Make sure children wear a well-fitted helmet if they play football, softball or baseball to prevent severe injuries such as concussions. Many head injuries result from helmets not being fitted or used correctly.
  • Athletes who take a blow to the head should not return to the same practice, game or contest and should be evaluated by a physician prior going back to tryouts, practice or games.

Several vetted websites offer additional resources to help prevent youth sports injuries:

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.