Back to School, Back to Sports: What to Know if Your Child Plays a Contact Sport

Published September 8, 2017

For many parents, the back to school season not only means that your children will be attending classes and doing homework, but returning to playing contact sports as well. We know that “participation in sports offers tremendous social, emotional and physical benefits for children,” according to Safe Kids Worldwide. However, it is important to keep safety from serious injury in mind.

Adapted from Safe Kids Worldwide, here are some steps you can take to keep your child safe as they participate in a contact sport:

Preparation: Ensure your child receives a preparticipation physical exam (PPE), and share emergency contact information and any pertinent medical information with the team coach.

Speak Up About a Warm Up: Make sure there is time set aside for proper warm ups and stretching. If the coach has not allotted time, bring it to their attention immediately.

Teach Hydration: Send your child to practice and games with ample fluids (water is the best option), and encourage them to drink plenty before, during and after play. Learn the signs and symptoms of dehydration/other heat illnesses and react quickly if you notice any.

Equip Them with the Right Gear: Appropriate and properly-fitted sports gear is an excellent defense against injury. Teach your child that they must wear it for all practices and games.

Don’t Take Chances: Learn the signs and symptoms of concussions, and seek immediate medical attention if you suspect that a concussion was sustained. It is always better to sit the child out and evaluate them than to risk re-injuring or playing with a concussion.

Encourage Rest Periods: Coaches should allow all players periods of rest during practices and games. Encourage your child to communicate if they are experiencing any pain, injury, illness, or need for a break to you and/or their coach.

Be Supportive: Learn about the risk of injury so that you are informed on prevention as well as appropriate action if one occurs. Maintain open communication between yourself, your child and the coach.

Prevention is the key to avoiding serious injury in a contact sport. Teaching your child to wear the appropriate equipment, play by the rules, and use their mind to protect their body will prevent most injuries. However, in the event of an injury, it is extremely important to know when to seek medical attention and how to proceed. The correct management of an injury is essential to appropriate healing and return to play.

Burke has been a leader in brain injury rehabilitation for over 100 years. A specific facet of the brain injury program is ThinkFirst, an award winning, national injury prevention program. It provides safety education to school-age children in the hope of reducing serious injury. The program helps educate youth about personal vulnerability and risk taking behaviors. Physical therapists from Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, who are ThinkFirst volunteers, are dedicated to providing this injury prevention program to young people, school officials, community program members and community leaders. Burke offers the program free of charge to organizations that serve youth. If you are interested, please call (914) 597-2393. Click here to learn more about Burke’s brain injury rehabilitation program.

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