If your child plays, here are some things to keep an eye on
By Cliff Mehrtens
Playing fields will soon fill with young athletes launching into fall sports.
Parents need to be aware of injuries, which are a part of sports whether your child is a beginner, veteran, or a player for their school team or a recreational squad.
Dr. Christian Turner, a pediatric sports medicine physician at Novant Health Pediatric Sports Medicine – Midtown, tackles four common questions for parents:
What’s the most important thing to watch for?
“The two biggest things I would suggest for parents to look for are limping and swelling,” Turner said. “If you have a child with lower-extremity pain – knee or ankle pain especially – if they’re just having soreness and some discomfort after activity, they’re probably OK to keep playing. But if kids are really limping out there, that’s a sign that there might be something more significant going on.”
“If there’s swelling around an injury, then they should probably stop their activity and have it checked by a doctor.”
How to guard against overuse injuries as athletes specialize and play year-round?
“Many kids are focusing on one sport and doing it a lot earlier (in age) than a generation ago,” Turner said. “There really does need to be some time off. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least one day off each week from a given sport.”
A rule of thumb he likes: The hours spent on a sport should not exceed their age. “For example, if you have a 10-year-old and they’re playing a sport, having a goal in mind of 10 hours or less of that sport each week is a good way to monitor their activity.”
What injuries are most prevalent among young athletes?
“Knee and ankle injuries are very common,” Turner said. “Some of injuries we see that are common during the summer – some are sports-related, some aren’t – are simple fractures, like wrist fractures. Ankle injuries are probably the most common overall.”
What training tips would you give to young athletes?
“The big thing we see through the summer into the fall is that training time and preparation needs to be taken beforehand,” Turner said. “You’ll see a lot of the kids, especially middle-schoolers, who are getting into a school sport for the first time. It’s a big intensity increase, so if they can start their training early and doing things now, it should prevent injuries going forward into the fall.”