Playing it safe in sports
Emergency Room Doctor Alex Vaisman, MD, notes that sports can be a great way for kids to get exercise, build social skills and learn the value of teamwork. But they can also lead to injuries that can pull children off the field and sometimes even land them in the emergency room. As your kids gear up for their favorite sports, here are some safety tips from the National Institutes of Health*.
- Enroll your child in organized sports through schools, community clubs and recreation areas that are properly maintained.
- Get a preseason exam with a healthcare provider.
- Make sure your child has – and uses – proper gear for a particular sport.
- Make sure your child follows the rules of the sport.
- Make warm-ups and cooldowns part of your child’s routine before and after sports.
- Make sure your child has access to water or a sports drink while playing.
- Make sure your child has sun protection.
- Learn and follow safety rules and suggestions for your child’s particular sport.
* National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, adapted from Play It Safe, a Guide to Safety for Young Athletes, with permission of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Time out: Concussions
As described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.
If the concussion happens while playing sports, the CDC says you should:
- Remove your child from play.
- Keep your child out of play the day of the injury. Your child should be seen by a healthcare provider and only return to play with permission from a healthcare provider who is experienced in evaluating for concussion.
- Ask your child’s healthcare provider for written instructions on helping your child return to school. You can give the instructions to your child’s school nurse and teacher(s) and return-to-play instructions to the coach and/or athletic trainer.
Call 9-1-1 right away, or take your child to the emergency department, if he or she has one or more of the following danger signs after a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body:
Dangerous Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
- One pupil larger than the other.
- Drowsiness or inability to wake up.
- A headache that gets worse and does not go away.
- Slurred speech, weakness, numbness or decreased coordination.
- Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures (shaking or twitching).
- Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness or agitation.
- Loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out). Even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously.