Sports Injuries

15 August 2016

Safety crucial in organised sport for kids

Taking part in organised sports is good for kids, provided facilities are well maintained and coaches are properly trained.

The benefits of youth sports and exercise far outweigh the risks, health experts say. And there are a number of things parents can do to help prevent injuries.

A plan for responding to emergencies

For starters, look for a sport or exercise programme that's a match for your child's ability and interests, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests.

Enrol children in organised sports with properly maintained facilities. Make sure coaches are trained in first aid and CPR, and have a plan for responding to emergencies. Coaches should also be experienced in the proper use of equipment and enforce rules on equipment use, the agency advised in a news release.

Read: Prevent kids' sports injuries

Parents should know that some organised sports programmes include adult staff who are certified athletic trainers who know how to prevent, recognise and provide immediate care for sports injuries, according to the NIH.

In addition, the agency offered the following tips:

- Children should always use proper safety gear for their sport. They should also know and follow the safety rules.

    - Before and after exercise, warm-ups and cool-downs should be mandatory.

      - Kids should have access to water or sports drinks, and should drink frequently to stay properly hydrated.

      - Sunscreen and a hat (when possible) should be used to reduce the risk of sunburn.

      Sports are important

      If your child suffers a soft tissue injury (such as a sprain or strain) or a bone injury, the best immediate treatment is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Professional medical treatment is required for severe injuries such as fractures, joint dislocations, prolonged swelling, or prolonged and severe pain.

      Read: Safety tips for young athletes

      Despite the risk of injury, exercise and sports are important for children. Physical activity reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes, helps improve social skills and sense of well-being, and helps kids learn team skills, the national health experts explained.

      More than 38 million US children and teens engage in organised sports each year, and many more participate in informal recreational activities, the NIH release noted.

      Read more:

      Is your kids' sport-related training hurting them?

      Get your kids to drink more water

      Health checks crucial for school-aged kids 


      Ask the Expert

      Sports Injuries Expert

      Adrian Rotunno is a medical doctor in the Sports & Exercise Medicine fellowship at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and qualified physiotherapist. Team physician for Dimension Data pro-cycling, and Boland Rugby. Special interests include endurance sport, in particular cycling, as well as contact sports.

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