National Physical Therapy Month: Sports Injury Prevention in Children

We love our therapists and wanted to make note that this month is National Physical Therapy Month. With that said, the APTA has deemed that the focus this month should be on injury prevention across the lifespan. We couldn’t agree more which is why it is important to help your young patients and their parents understand proper injury prevention techniques, at an early age, to circumvent a string of potential life long problems.

Although sports participation provides numerous physical and social benefits to the 38 million+ children in the US, it also has a downside: the risk of sports-related injuries.  As a Physical Therapist you will, without question, treat a full range of injuries from cuts and scrapes to serious brain and spinal cord injuries. Your priority should be to educate your young patients and their parents on injury prevention as well as treating the current injury.

Most Common Sports-Related Injuries in Children:

  • Sprains and Strains:
  • Growth Plate Injuries
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries
  • Heat-Related Illnesses

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) has outlined the proper prevention of sports-related injuries that should be communicated to your patients’ parents.

  • Enroll your child in organized sports through schools, community clubs, and recreation areas that are properly maintained. Any organized team activity should demonstrate a commitment to injury prevention. Coaches should be trained in first aid and CPR, and should have a plan for responding to emergencies. Coaches should be well versed in the proper use of equipment, and should enforce rules on equipment use.
  • Organized sports programs may have adults on staff who are Certified Athletic Trainers. These individuals are trained to prevent, recognize, and provide immediate care for athletic injuries.
  • Make sure your child has€”and consistently uses€”proper gear for a particular sport. This may reduce the chances of being injured.
  • Make warm-ups and cool downs part of your child’s routine before and after sports participation. Warm-up exercises, such as stretching and light jogging, can help minimize the chance of muscle strain or other soft tissue injury during sports. Warm-up exercises make the body’s tissues warmer and more flexible. Cool down exercises loosen muscles that have tightened during exercise.
  • Make sure your child has access to water or a sports drink while playing. Encourage him or her to drink frequently and stay properly hydrated. Remember to include sunscreen and a hat (when possible) to reduce the chance of sunburn, which is a type of injury to the skin. Sun protection may also decrease the chances of malignant melanoma€”a potentially deadly skin cancer€”or other skin cancers that can occur later in life.
  • Learn and follow safety rules and suggestions for your child’s particular sport. You’ll find some more sport-specific safety suggestions below.

Its important to understand that treatment will vary greatly for these sports-related injuries. For soft tissue injuries (such as a sprain or strain) or even a bone injury you should teach your patients and their parents RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation). For any severe injuries it’s important that they seek immediate professional treatment. Injuries are inevitable and thus proper prevention and correct treatment are as vital as the active lifestyle your patients are trying to live. As a Physical Therapist you have the ability to help your patients grow up without the long term effects of improper injury prevention or the lack there of.

If you are a Physical Therapist that is looking for a new professional opportunity, or even a short-term travel opportunity contact our Strategic Search Consultants today or call 800 535 0076.

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