For children and teens, playing sports has many benefits. In addition to promoting physical activity, team sports teach young athletes about discipline and teamwork. However, playing sports also puts children at risk of getting injured. According to the National Center for Sports Safety, over 3.5 million kids under the age of 14 receive medical treatment for sports-related injuries each year.
What Causes Sports-Related Injuries?
Statistics show that nearly 40% of sports-related injuries treated in emergency rooms are among children ages 5 to 14. The Pediatric Sports Medicine Program at Miami Childrenâ€™s Hospitalâ€“ home to one of the nationâ€™s top pediatric orthopedic programs, according to U.S. News & World Reportâ€“is highly experienced in treating a variety of sports-related injuries, both minor and complex. Staffed by two of the regions top pediatric sports medicine specialists, Dr. Stephen Swirsky, DO and Dr. Craig J. Spurdle, MD, both members of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
â€œYounger children are more susceptible to sports-related injuries than adults because they are typically less coordinated and have a slower reaction time,â€ said Dr. Swirsky. Â â€œBroken bones, concussions and eye injuries can result from falls, being hit with an object or colliding with another player.â€
Sprains and strains are also typical types of injuries in children who play sports. Dr. Spurdle notes, â€œKids who play sports that involve repetitive movements such as swimming, gymnastics, baseball and tennis, are more vulnerable to these types of injuries.â€
How Can These Injuries Be Prevented?
Injuries are imminent among young athletes, but there are certain precautions that can be taken to lower the risk of a painful or potentially serious injury. These include:
- Before signing them up for little league baseball or pee wee football, make sure your child feels comfortable enough to play with other kids.
- Check that your child is playing with the proper equipment, including shoes, helmets, protective cups and padding.
- Find a reputable sports program run by a church, school or youth center. Coaches should also be trained in first-aid and CPR.
- Encourage your kids to know their limits. Playing through an injury is never a good idea as it can result in more severe injury and a more lengthy recovery.
In the Event of Injury
In the event of a sports injury, athletes up to 21 years of age are encouraged to see a pediatric sports specialist. â€œBecause children and teens are still growing and developing, they experience different types of sports-related injuries than adults,â€ said Dr. Spurdle. Â â€œSwelling, limping or restricted use of the injured limb are signs of an injury. If it is more than a bruise or a cut, it is important that the child be evaluated by a medical professional specializing in pediatric sports injuries,â€ he said.