As parents of young children, you’ve probably been told all too often how the participation in sports helps kids build character and instills in them the importance of team work, cooperation, and sacrifice. The part that’s often left out of the conversation is that any sport, whether it’s bike riding or “pee-wee” football, carries the potential for injury – from strains and bruises to severe brain injury and even death.
1.24 million kids have visited the emergency room for sports-related injuries in 2013 – that’s almost 1 every 25 seconds and nearly 4,000 every day. 9 out of 10 said they had sustained injuries while playing a sport – most requiring medical attention – and half of them said they continued to play despite their injury. When it comes to injury prevention, 23% of coaches, 28% of athletes, and 31% of parents said they don’t do anything to prevent injury on the field. On the field, kids are struck by their opponents, yelled at by their coaches, and misunderstood – or simply ignored – by their parents.
These were some of the shocking findings of the 2014 report published by the global organization Safe Kids Worldwide in an attempt to identify what’s causing such large numbers in sports injuries and promote conversations about the challenges young athletes are confronted with. Researchers surveyed 1,000 athletes grades 7th through 10th, 1,000 coaches, and 1,000 parents of kids grades 1st through 10th to learn about safety practices and injury prevention. Despite noting greater awareness about youth sports safety, there was still an alarming gap in what is currently being done to ensure the safety of the more than 45.6 million children who participate in sports every year in the U.S.
Most Common Sports-Related Injuries in Children
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH), most organized sports-related injuries occur during practice and include:
- Sprains are injuries to a joint that overstretch or rupture the supporting ligaments as a result of direct or indirect trauma (e.g., landing on an outstretched arm, making sudden movement, jumping and landing on the side of the foot). Most often injured this way are ankles and knees, but sprains can occur in any joint in the body.
- Muscle strains are injuries (twists, pulls, or tears) to a muscle and/or a tendon that can result from either a direct blow to the body or the overuse of muscles and tendons, as well as inadequate rest during practice. Depending on their severity, strains can be mild, moderate, and severe (when the tendon is partially or completely ruptured).
- Growth plate injuries are injuries to the tissue area near the ends of the long bones in children and adolescents, including those of hands, fingers, forearm, upper leg, lower leg, and foot. Fractures can result from a single event, such as a direct blow or a fall, or as a result of chronic stress and overuse.
- Repetitive motion injuries (RSIs) are painful injuries that occur from the overuse of muscles and tendons, resulting in inflammation, pain, swelling, and tissue damage. In general, RSIs include more than 100 different types of injuries and illnesses and usually affect the elbows, shoulders, and knees.
- Heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are particularly dangerous for young children who have lower tolerance to heat and increased heat production and retention. Young boys under the age of 20 who play football are most likely to sustain heat-related injuries.
The Natural and Safe Path to Recovery
While embracing some of the strategies outlined in the report may go a long way in reducing sports youth injuries, it is imperative for parents to ensure that their active kids are in prime playing condition before going on the field. Chiropractic care can play a critical role in helping young children and adolescents involved in sports minimize the risk of injury and enhance performance. Furthermore, doctors of chiropractic can serve as educators for both parents and kids about how to make the correct lifestyle choices that will allow kids to perform at their peak.
Contact your local chiropractic office to set up an appointment for your child the next time his/her football practice ends in pain. This way, you can eliminate the risk of long-term damage from untreated injuries and ensure your child will always enjoy a great playing experience.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.