Sports safety tips
With so many children playing so many sports nowadays, parents have been competing to ask me questions about what they can do to make sure their child is as safe as possible when practicing or playing a particular sport. Let me see if I am game enough to offer some tips on this topic.
How to keep your child safe
No matter what sport your child plays, make sure you are familiar with the equipment needed to reduce injury risk.
For many sports, this includes:
¯ A properly fitted helmet. Note that a bike helmet is not to be used for other sports and vice versa.
¯ Quality eye protection. Ideally, eye gear for sports should be made with a plastic called polycarbonate. This material will not break while protecting the eyes.
¯ A mouth guard, if they are involved in contact sports.
¯ Protecting extremities with wrist, knee and elbow guards or pads, especially for some sports like hockey or inline skating. Different sports may need different types of pads.
¯ For boys: a protective cup to protect the testicles.
¯ The right footwear for the right sport; replace shoes or cleats that are worn out and no longer protective of the foot.
¯ Engaging in a warm-up like easy jogging or jumping jacks, followed by some stretching. This gets the muscles and blood flow going.
¯ Attending all practices to learn plays and practice skills that improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
¯ Knowing the rules of the game. This knowledge can prevent unnecessary injury to your child or to other children by your child.
What to do if an injury occurs
Please work with your child’s health care professional and coach, so your child does not return sooner than they should. A too early return to play can only increase the chance for re-injury. This is especially true after a concussion, where a return to class and then a return to play program should be put in place by your child’s health care professional.
Hopefully tips like these will score big for you and, in turn, your children when it comes to keeping them safe and healthy in whatever sport they are interested in playing.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5.