Play it Safe

Summer sports are all fun and games until someone ends up with a sprain, strain or concussion. We talked to Thurman V. Alvey III, DO, primary care sports medicine physician with Methodist Sports Medicine, to bring you a crash course on a number of sports-related injuries commonly faced by young athletes.


What is it?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury typically caused by some sort of contact or forceful activity. Individuals who sustain concussions temporarily lose cognitive function.

What are the symptoms?.

The child may act abnormal, look dazed or confused, lose balance or forget what they are doing. Other symptoms include dizziness, nausea and headaches.

What can parents do?

Dr. Alvey instructs parents to head to the E.R. immediately if a child loses consciousness or if he continues to exhibit neurological symptoms like dizziness, forgetfulness, blurry vision or memory loss after 10-15 minutes. For a less severe instance without passing out or vomiting, he believes it may be okay to wait and call a doctor the next morning. When in doubt, though, parents should contact a medical professional right away. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses children should not return to play post-concussion until they receive medical clearance from a physician.

Overuse injuries

What are they?

Overuse injuries are “all of your itises,” says Dr. Alvey. He reports that these types of musculoskeletal issues – which include conditions like “Little League Shoulder” and “Little League Elbow” – are now being seen in younger children as a result of excessive practice and increased emphasis on sports specialization.

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An ounce of prevention

In addition to treating injuries when they occur, parents can take steps to reduce their kids’ chances of being sidelined. Dr. Alvey offers three helpful tips for injury prevention.

1. Take a break. Children ages 5 to 14 should take least one month off organized sports each year to let their bodies grow and heal. Dr. Alvey also advocates cross-training and participation in a variety of sports.

2. Promote sleep. Make sure kids get plenty of rest. Young children still need 8-12 hours of sleep nightly.

3. Give them a drink. Proper hydration is essential for young athletes. “Water is actually probably more important than Gatorade,” says Dr. Alvey, although children who will be in the sun for more than two hours should drink something with electrolytes.

(Additional Source: for AAP information)

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