With the news filled with concussions and other kids’ sports injuries, it may seem safer to just keep your child safely at home on the couch next to you.
But there are many precautions you can take to help ensure that your son or daughter doesn’t end up in the ER.
- Buy proper equipment and check it periodically.
Concussions most commonly occur from bicycling, football, basketball and soccer, with football and girls’ soccer scoring the highest number of incidents last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If your child participates in one of those sports, it’s especially important to find a helmet that fits correctly.
All helmets should be inspected routinely to make sure they still fit throughout the season. New, more effective helmets and mouthguards are always in the news, but beware of the hype – just because something is new, doesn’t mean it is better or more effective. Do your research.
In addition, be sure your child wears shoes specifically made for his or her sport, to help prevent tendonitis and stress fractures.
- Focus on proper technique.
In soccer, for example, there are right and wrong ways to head the ball, so make sure your children’s coach is instructing them about the differences. In football, using improper tackling techniques can lead to injury, so coaches should definitely be covering the proper way to position the body before children begin playing.
Kids should also be coached to always warm up appropriately. Even the simplest of stretches can be a big help to prevents pulls, strains and more.
A slow buildup to the season’s rigors is crucial too. Children should increase their physical efforts only 10 percent per week to avoid stress fractures.
- Communicate early and often.
A pre-season informational meeting with coaches to go over the safety policies of the school or club is a great idea. The meeting can include general information on what the coach is planning to do to avoid concussions and other injuries. Some programs even have kids sign a concussion form so they are aware of the dangers and can try to be more cautious.
It’s especially important to keep open a dialogue about muscle overuse when kids practice a sport year-round without any breaks. While the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend limiting the amount of sports activity, an injury on a growth plate can have long-term effects.
- Pay attention when your kids are playing.
It’s important for parents to be present and involved in their children’s sports play. There’s no need to go overboard, but attend games and practices to look for any signs of dangerous habits, like leading forward with their head vs. their body in soccer.
What to do if you think your child has suffered a concussion:
Get medical attention for your child right away.
Keep your child out of play until a medical professional says it’s OK to return.
Let your child’s coach know about any previous concussions.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention