Dr. Kathryn Gibson, a family and sports medicine physician at South Jordan Health Center, shares steps to help prevent sports injuries in children.
Participation in any sport can teach kids to stretch their limits and learn sportsmanship and discipline. But any sport also carries the potential for injury. The following tips can help parents keep their young athlete healthy:
1. Pre-participation Physical Exam
• Children should have a physical exam before taking part in sporting activities. This exam is important in screening for problems that could cause injury such as musculoskeletal abnormalities, or could be life-threatening such as sudden cardiac death. This exam does not replace their regular physical exams with their primary care physician.
• If your child is complaining of pain, tenderness, or movement limitations, take them to a physician for a more formal exam.
2. Protective Gear
• Children need to be equipped with the proper (size and type) clothing, footwear, helmets and protective gear for their sporting activities.
• Equipment should be maintained in good, safe working condition (example: a cracked bicycle helmet, even if it only has a “surface crack”, should be replaced).
3. Be aware of the environment
• Coaches and parents should be looking out for signs of sunburn, dehydration, heat stroke, and frostbite.
4. Proper conditioning
• Ease back into exercise, especially if the child has been more sedentary previously.
• Warm-up and stretching exercises should be encouraged before all training or competition.
5. Know the coach
• Coaches should be accredited by a coaching organization, have basic first aid knowledge, an understanding of child development (physical, biological and social), and tailor programs to the child’s physical maturity level, skill level, ability to learn new skills, and level of enthusiasm.
6. Know how much is too much
• Children should be encouraged to participate in a variety of activities so all facets of athletic performance are developed. The child’s overall development as a person should take precedence over specialized training and competition.
Dr. Gibson practices at South Jordan Health Center, with University Health Care. For more information on University Health Care, visit healthcare.utah.edu.