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Thursday, September 18, 2008
Stay in the Game... Sports Injury Prevention for Youth
By ELIH @ 10:37 PM :: 2814 Views :: Physical Therapy PT

You don't have to travel far to find a youth sporting event in-progress on any one of the North Fork's many playing fields. "More children are choosing to participate in multiple sports over multiple seasons," explains Dr. Fred Carter of North Fork Orthopedics and Eastern Long Island Hospital (ELIH). "This trend is a healthy one in many respects, but it also presents more opportunity for injury." Here are some common sense tips to reduce injury on the playing field:


•HELMETS: Choose a helmet designed for the sport being played. Helmets should fit snugly but comfortably on the head, and shouldn't tilt backward or forward. A CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) sticker on a bike helmet guarantees it meets U.S. government safety standards.

•EYE GEAR: Look for eye gear made of shatter-resistant polycarbonate; regular prescription glasses or sunglasses may shatter during play.

•MOUTH GUARDS: Recommended for wear during sports with risk of head injury, mouth guards are essential for football, basketball, hockey, and wrestling, among other sports.

•WRIST, KNEE and ELBOW GUARDS: These can significantly reduce the risk of arm, wrist and knee fractures as a result of in-line skating, skateboarding, and riding scooters.

•PADS: Check with your child's coach to learn which pads are needed for your child's sport.

•PROTECTIVE CUPS: Boys who play contact sports should wear a cup. For non-contact sports involving running, an athletic supporter is recommended.

• ATHLETIC SHOES: Footwear should be appropriate for the sport being played. When shoes are worn-out or no longer supportive, it's time for a replacement pair.

STRETCH before and after games. This increases flexibility, which reduces the incidence of injury.

DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS before, during and after sports to avoid heat related injury.

PROPER TECHNIQUE should be taught and reinforced by coaches throughout the playing season. Safety rules should be clearly defined and enforced.

MODEL GOOD BEHAVIOR: When kids see parents/ adults using proper safety equipment, they are more likely to wear protective gear.

KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE THE PLAYING FIELD: There's often a bit of pressure on a child to stay in the game following an injury. Kids should be encouraged to resist pressure from others, to "be their own manager," and to make the smart choice to leave the playing field and recuperate before returning.

WHEN INJURY DOES HAPPEN: No one is exempt from injury, even when he's taken all the precautions. When injury does happen, the standard advice is to ice the area, elevate it, treat with an anti-inflammatory medication and observe the child. Use your parental red flag. Visit your doctor or ELIH's emergency room if you're concerned the injury may be serious.

FINALLY, KEEP IN MIND THAT ALTHOUGH THERE IS RISK PRESENT IN ALL SPORTS, THERE IS GREAT BENEFIT AS WELL. The long-term benefits of sports to children are clear –exercise helps kids maintain proper weight; training improves strength, coordination and confidence; and practice builds lifelong good health habits. Kids feel good about themselves when they participate in sports. Keeping these safety tips in mind will help keep them feeling great.

This information is provided by Fred M. Carter MD, a board certified orthopedist on the Medical Staff at Eastern Long Island Hospital. His practice, North Fork Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, is located in Mattituck.

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