As students head back to the classroom this fall, most will be returning to extracurricular sports activities as well. It is estimated that somewhere between 30 and 40 million kids participate in organized sports in the United States each year. Organized sports such as football, soccer, volleyball, and others provide many benefits for kids, but they also pose one serious threat: injury.

Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries in Kids

Almost 3.5 million children are injured playing sports each year. These injuries range from sprains and bruises to more serious health concerns like concussions.

Even though death from a sports injury is rare, brain injury is the leading cause of death from a sports-related trauma. It may be reassuring to hear that the majority of injuries aren't life-threatening, but when it's your kid out there on the field with the potential to get hurt, statistics don't really matter.

As parents, we always want to protect our kids. And while we can never do that completely, we can follow a few simple rules to better ensure their safety while they're on the field.

  • Be sure your child has had a sports physical before he participates.
     
  • Always purchase sport-specific safety gear that fits properly.
     
  • Emphasize the importance of appropriate stretching and warm-up exercises.
     
  • Encourage hydration, especially on hot days.
     
  • Be sure your child has a knowledgeable and attentive coach.
     
  • Determine in advance who you will turn to in the event of injury. Keep the number of your family doctor handy, and make sure you know which local emergency room you prefer.
     
  • Err on the side of caution. If you aren't sure about the severity of an injury, seek the opinion of a medical professional.

Talk to the Experts

Parents are often confused when it comes to the best ways to prevent and treat sports injuries. We can usually handle the bumps and the bruises that come with Little League, but when the stakes are higher and the injuries more serious, we need help. Fortunately, there are experts available to provide the guidance we need.

On Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. CST, St. Louis Children's Hospital, one of the country's leading children's hospitals, will host Good Sports: Preventing and Treating Kids' Sports Injuries. This interactive webcast is "designed to help parents, coaches, and school personnel take the steps necessary to keep kids healthy, no matter what level of sports they play."

During the webcast, both medical experts from St. Louis Children's and professional athlete and former St. Louis Ram's player Mike Jones will be speaking about sports injuries in children and addressing parents' questions and concerns. To register for this free webcast and learn more about the best ways to protect your own kids, click on the link above.

Learn More About Sports Safety

  • KidsHealth.org: Staying Safe offers great tips about safety basics for a variety of different sports, and information about first first aid for different types of injuries.
     
  • At SafeKids.org you'll have access to several fact sheets that you can download, including a Safe Sports Checklist.
     
  • Kids With Sports Concussions Need Time Out on the St. Louis Children's Hospital website addresses the growing number of emergency room visits for concussions, and includes valuable information for concerned parents.
     
  • In 7 Reasons To Get Your Children Involved In Sports, Parenting Squad's Rhonda Franz looks at the benefits of sports for kids, and shares some helpful links for parents.

This post was included in the latest edition of Carnival of Homeschooling.