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Fall Sports Safety

With children heading back to school many parents have been asking me to tackle the topic of safety during the fall sports season. Its a real kick to answer questions like this, so let's see if I can score some points with some helpful tips.

More than 150,000 children under age 15 are treated in Emergency Departments each year with football-related injuries, and another 250,000 are treated for soccer injuries. Muscle strains and sprains are the most common injuries, particularly those affecting the knees and shoulders.

Protective equipment is critical. All children playing tackle football need a helmet, a mouthguard, and pads for shoulders, hips, knees, thighs, and tailbone. For soccer and field hockey, mouth guards and shin guards are a must. Boys need a protective cup for their genitals, and everyone who wears glasses should be wearing safety lenses.

Make sure your children warm up before they start playing any sport. Loosening up by jogging and stretching gradually gets the muscles warmed and loosened up, which reduces the risk of injury.

Stress the importance of playing by the rules. Not only is it good sportsmanship, it also helps reduce the risk of injury.

If your children are going to be playing an organized sport in the fall its a good idea to have them undergo a pre-participation physical exam to make sure that they have are no special injury risks.

Finally, make sure your children do not play while injured. No matter how tempting it is to allow your children to play again before an injury is fully healed, that scenario can and does lead to an even worse injuries that may end a season or a career. Talk with the pediatrician about when its time for them to get back into the game, and take h is or her advice to heart.

I hope that these tips will keep you from fumbling the next time you want to reach your goal of keeping your children safe on the field this fall.

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