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Parents, help your kids play it safe this spring and summer

April is Youth Sports Safety Month—designed to heighten awareness of the estimated 3.2 million sports- and recreation-related visits to emergency rooms each year by children ages 5-14 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control, sports-related injuries are also the leading cause of ER visits by 12 to 17-year-olds.
But there are steps parents can take to lessen their child’s risk and protect them against further injury.
“Don’t push your child to ‘play through’ pain or allow others to do so,” advises orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Sylvester Youlo, MD, with Ascension Medical Group Via Christi. “If your child is injured, see your doctor, follow his or her recommendations and get the doctor’s OK before returning to play. Getting back in the game too soon can lead to more serious and longer-lasting injuries.”
According to the CDC, it’s important that children and adolescents have a physical exam before starting new sports activities. In addition, as a parent you should make sure that your child:
  • Is supervised by an experienced or trained coach who understands and enforces game rules and helps him or her develop injury prevention skills specific to their sport, such as how to safely stop or fall while inline skating.
  • Consult your doctor about realistic goals, frequencies and intensities appropriate to your child’s current physical condition and injury-history before starting a new exercise or sport.
  • Is properly outfitted for the sport in which he or she will be participating – proper protective gear (helmet, shin guards, knee pads); shoes that fit well and are appropriate for the sport; clothing that is not too loose so it won’t become tangled. In some sports, mouth guards and face protection can help prevent traumas to the face, head, eyes, and mouth, which are among the most common types of injuries.
  • Stretches and participates in pre-game warm-up activities.
Additionally, said Dr. Youlo, make sure that your child is on the appropriate team for him or her based on skill level, weight and physical maturity – especially for contact sports and that you or your child’s coach has a first aid kit readily available at all times.
About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.