The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 2.6 million children of all ages up to 19 years old are treated in the emergency department each year for sports and recreation related injuries. Recreational injuries are by definition physical as all of the various forms of recreation have to do with physical activity. Taking part in sports and recreation activities is an important part of healthy, physically active lifestyle for kids, but injuries can and do occur. Recreational injuries can be prevented if there are guidelines and safeguards in place.
Injuries associated with participation in sports and recreational activities account for a large percentage of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States. A concussion occurring to a child participating in recreation or sports activities is a brain injury and concussions are serious. Concussions can occur without the loss of consciousness and can occur in any sport. Recognition and proper management of concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury. It is important for parents or people in charge of the recreation or sports activities such as coaches and staff to recognize the symptoms of concussion even without a loss of consciousness. These symptoms include appearing dazed or stunned, confusion, answering questions slowly, mood or behavior changes, concentration or memory problems, nausea or not feeling right. The child experiencing a concussion exhibiting these symptoms should stop participating in the recreation or sports activity, should seek medical care and give his or her brain time to heal.
In addition to concussions, many other physical injuries can occur to children participating in recreational and sports activities including fractures, sprains, strains, heat stroke and multiple other injuries.
When children participate in recreational and sports activities there are a number of safeguards that can be followed including the following:
- Coaching and supervision - making certain that the recreation and sports activities are supervised and the coaches have experience and are trained.
- Site and facility safety - making sure that the areas of play are safe and hazard free and that the leagues or personnel organizing the activities inspect and ensure proper maintenance of the facilities.
- Equipment use and maintenance - making certain that all the proper equipment is being utilized in the recreation or sports activity and that the equipment is well maintained.
- Pay attention to temperature - allow time for children to gradually adjust to hot or humid environments to protect heat related injuries or illnesses.
- Sufficient practice - have children learn and practice skills they need in order to properly participate in the recreation or sports activities.
Safeguarding children from injuries during recreation and sports activities by following the above suggestions is extremely important as these injuries are preventable.