3 Ways to Keep Your Student-Athlete Safe and Healthy This Season
Sponsored by HCA East Florida
When your child is involved in school sports, you know they will come home with the occasional bump or bruise that you can easily treat with a little love and your first-aid kit. But do you know what to do if something more serious happens?
Unfortunately, each year about 1.35 million kids end up in the ER from sports-related injuries. Our local HCA East Florida Hospitals — Northwest Medical Center, University Hospital and Medical Center, Plantation General Hospital, and Westside Regional Medical Center — have three helpful tips on how you can keep your student-athlete safe this school year.
SCHEDULE A SPORTS PHYSICAL Before your child laces up those cleats or sneakers, make sure he or she has a routine sports physical. Your child’s pediatrician will review what types of sports your child will be playing and family history. Vaccinations can be administered during these visits as well.
KNOW WHAT TO DO Next time your child gets hurt, you can be prepared by knowing how to respond to his or her injury. Here are four common sports-related conditions, their symptoms, and treatment.
Sprains and strains What’s the difference? A sprain is an injury causing stretching or tearing to the ligament in the joint. A strain (aka pulled muscle) is an injury that causes stretching or tearing of the muscle. While strains are typically treated with rest and heat/cold, physical therapy can sometimes help as well. As for sprains, rapid physical therapy and the return to range-of-motion exercises are important to get your kids moving and back to their regular activities faster than using crutches or bed rest. In severe sprain cases, your child’s doctor may suggest surgery based on the location of the sprain and condition of the ligament.
Heat exhaustion Heat illnesses are best prevented by avoiding being outside during the hottest parts of the day. If there’s a game or practice then, make sure your child wears loose clothing, sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, and stays hydrated. Plain old H2O is fine for activities that last less than an hour; for longer activities, try electrolyte replacements like Gatorade G2 or Pedialyte. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include weakness, headache, heavy sweating, and cool, clammy skin. Move your child to a cool place and rehydrate. If your child’s symptoms don’t improve within 30 minutes, call his or her doctor.
Heat stroke Heat stroke is a serious condition that requires emergency care. Symptoms include hot, dry skin, a high fever, vomiting, and possibly loss of consciousness. If your child shows these signs, take him or her to the ER immediately.
Concussion A concussion happens when a blow to the head or other part of the body causes the brain to be jostled inside the skull. Symptoms include headache, dizziness and blurry vision; more severe signs include seizures and worsening headaches as well as pronounced confusion or strange behavior. If your child has had a possible concussion, have him or her evaluated by a professional, either on the field or at the ER. Whether or not a hospital stay will be necessary depends on the severity of the concussion.
The good news is that most concussion cases are mild and symptoms usually go away after a week. The best treatment is rest. Your child should avoid watching TV or using tablets, computers, and video games, which stimulate the brain and could cause concussion symptoms to reappear or worsen. Over time and once his or her doctor gives the OK, your child can slowly return to normal activities and sports.
COACH YOUR CHILD Kids are prone to injury because they lack the inherent fear that adults have of getting hurt. Raising a young athlete is a team effort that includes the parents, coaching staff, and doctors all teaching your child the importance of regular, safe sports practice, including strength-training, conditioning, and flexibility.
When parents ensure that their children’s bodies are cared for, safeguarded, and well nourished, they will have the ability and energy to illuminate, serving as a vessel for Jesus on the field, court, water, or anywhere else their athleticism takes them!
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” —1 Corinthians 9:19
For more health tips and information, visit HCAEastFlorida.com or call their 24/7 free nurse advice hotline at 954-724-6349.
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