Children Should Rely on Safety Equipment to Prevent Sports Injuries

Thursday, August 23, 2007

CINCINNATI -- Many children are returning to school sports, such as soccer, football, cross-country and volleyball. Jon Divine, MD, director of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, says it's most important for children to be in shape even before showing up for the first day of practice or tryouts to reduce the risk of injury.

Acclimating to hot weather workouts ten days to two weeks before official practice begins can prevent heat injuries. Children should also drinking plenty of fluids, take frequent breaks, wear light clothing and limit their exposure to the sun in the hot part of the day.

Dr. Divine also says safety equipment can reduce children's chances of being one of the 4.4 million between the ages of five to 18 who are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year. He recommends the following gear for youth sports:

  • Mouth guards cost as little as $1 each, but protect the mouth, teeth, cheeks and tongue. They cushion blows that cause lost or broken teeth, concussions or jaw fractures. There are several different types, differing in cost, fit and comfort. Whatever the type you choose, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends them for all contact and collision sports.
  • Face guards and face protectors (polycarbonate lenses) prevent tens of thousands of injuries each year in football, hockey and other contact or collisions sports. Many leagues/teams require a physician's note to allow wearing a facemask lens.
  • Shin guards are worn by soccer players to prevent shin contusions. Parents need to make sure shin guards fit well. Rapidly growing young athletes may need to have their shin guards replaced annually

Helmets are another form of safety equipment that should be worn in sports like football, baseball or softball to prevent severe injuries like concussions. A concussion, or mild to moderate brain injury, is caused by a blow or jolt to the head. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common brain injury in sports is a concussion. In fact, approximately 300,000 sports-related concussions occur in the United States each year. Some concussions are unavoidable according to Dr. Divine, who also directs the concussion clinic at Cincinnati Children's.

"If a young athlete comes off the field after a blow to the head in any sport feeling dizzy, faint or have a lapse in memory, it's vital that they tell their coach or a team trainer. Equally as important, coaches, trainers and parents need to be observant of head injury symptoms because athletes may not report them," said Dr. Divine. "But of utmost importance, athletes younger than 18 who have any post-blow-to-the-head symptoms affecting their thought process should not return to the same practice, game or contest and be evaluated by a physician prior to return to play."

Following these important safety guidelines and reviewing them every year with your children will prevent injury in every sport during the school year.

Cincinnati Children's, one of the top five children's hospitals in the nation according to Child magazine, is a 475-bed institution devoted to bringing the world the joy of healthier kids. Cincinnati Children's is dedicated to providing care that is timely, efficient, effective, family-centered, equitable and safe. For its efforts to transform the way health care is provided, Cincinnati Children's received the 2006 American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize". Cincinnati Children's ranks second nationally among all pediatric centers in research grants from the National Institutes of Health and is a teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The Cincinnati Children's vision is to be the leader in improving child health.

Contact Information

Danielle Lewis, 513-636-9473,