Tips for Keeping Your Children Injury-Free During Fall Sports

Monday, August 10, 2015

Many children return to sports such as soccer, football, cross-country and volleyball when they return to school. Physicians in the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center say preparation before the first day of practice is critical in helping to reduce the risk of injury.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents 14 and under get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities. More than 775,000 children and adolescents 14 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of these injuries are traumatic in nature and occur as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.

More concerning, say Cincinnati Children’s Sports Medicine physicians, is the exponential increase in the number of overuse injuries experienced by young children today. These types of injuries are often the result of excessive training year-round or a rapid ramp up of activity after a period of inactivity. This scenario is common at the onset of any sports season.

Doctors in the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s suggest these tips to ensure children's safety when they return to school sports:

  • Four to six weeks prior to the onset of any sports season, children should start exercising regularly to get ready for their season.
  • Acclimate children to hot weather workouts by gradually increasing time outdoors in the heat and humidity. This should occur for about the first 10 days to two weeks of practice to help prevent heat injuries.
  • Make sure children drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks: every 10-15 minutes while participating in sports or physical activity. Also make sure they wear light clothing and limit their exposure to the sun in the hottest part of the day. Applying towels soaked in ice cubes and water to the head and neck helps to stay cool.
  • When heat illness is suspected, move the athlete into the shade or coolest area nearby. Try to cool them as quickly as possible by exposing the skin to ice/cold water and cool circulating air.
  • Young athletes with asthma should use preventative inhalers 20-30 minutes before exercise, do a gradual warm-up and should have an inhaler available to them during practices and during competition.
  • Make sure children wear any recommended protective equipment and ensure it is well-fitted. Protective equipment, such as helmets, can help prevent severe injuries such as skull fractures. Many head injuries result from helmets not being fitted or used correctly. Athletic trainers can fit helmets in the sports where they are needed.
  • Remind children to immediately tell the coach or trainer if they feel dizzy, "foggy," have a lapse in memory, or have a headache after taking a blow to the head.
  • Parents need to be mindful that athletes who have symptoms affecting their thought process after taking a blow to the head should not return to the same practice, game or contest and should be evaluated by a physician prior to return to play.

About Cincinnati Children’s

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Children’s Hospitals. It is also ranked in the top 10 for all 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at Connect on the Cincinnati Children’s blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

Contact Information

Tory Kennedy