Fall means returning to school, and for many children it also means returning to fall sports. According to sports medicine physicians at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, preparation before practice even begins is key to helping to reduce the risk of injury.

A news release from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center notes that, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents 14 and under get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities. More than 775,000 children and adolescents 14 and under are treated in hospital emergency departments for sports-related injuries each year. Most of these injuries are traumatic in nature and occur as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.

More concerning, according to the release, is the exponential increase in the number of overuse injuries experienced by young children today. These types of injuries are often the result of excessive training year-round or a rapid ramp-up of activity after a period of inactivity. This scenario is common at the onset of any sports season.

To address this scenario, physicians in the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center offer the following tips to ensure children’s safety when they return to fall sports, according to the release:

Have children exercise regularly 4 to 6 weeks prior to the beginning of the season; acclimate children to hot-weather workouts by gradually increasing their time outdoors in the heat and humidity; and make sure children drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks, wear light clothing, and limit their exposure to the sun in the hottest part of the day.

If heat illness is suspected, move the child into the shade or coolest area nearby, and try to cool them as quickly as possible by exposing the skin to ice/cold water and cool circulating air. The release reminds young athletes with asthma that they should use preventative inhalers 20 to 30 minutes before exercise, do a gradual warm-up, and should have an inhaler available to them during practices and during competition, the release continues.

Also, per the release, parents should make sure that children wear any recommended protective equipment and that it is well fitted; and children are reminded to immediately tell the coach or trainer if they feel dizzy, “foggy,” have a lapse in memory, or have a headache after taking a blow to the head.

The release notes also that parents need to be mindful that athletes who have symptoms affecting their thought process after taking a blow to the head should not return to the same practice, game, or contest, and should be evaluated by a physician prior to return to play.

[Source(s): Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Newswise]