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Checklist for a SAFE Back to School and Sports. Everyone Ready?

Little girl with inhalerIs it August already? Yes it is! Or soon will be and that means that soon it will be back to school and organized sports and all the things that make the school year so hectic. As a parent returning one child to school and sending one to his first year of school this is a pretty busy time of year in our house. Mixed in with all the fun of summer reading lists and back to school shopping, I would like to give you another list of things to make sure are right before the kids return to school and sports.

First and foremost on my list is always making sure that the school is up to date on its CPR and First Aid training. If you are a parent leaving your child at a school, daycare, or organized sports league you need to inquire and make sure that the staff or at least the staff that will be on hand ALL the time knows what to do in case of an emergency situation, such as an injury or an allergic reaction involving your child. Does your child have any emergency medicine that they need such as an EpiPen or an asthma inhaler, or any other medication that might be needed in a moment’s notice? , and if so, are they expired, does the school need a new one or even know about them and how to use them should the need arise? I have seen people forget their own name when confronted with these situations and the right training and preparation can make all the difference in the world.

Organized sports are another area where things need to be checked off before the new season starts. These activities can be at any age and be anything from baseball and football to cheerleading and gymnastics. Injuries happen in these sports all the time and once again, the coaches, staff, volunteers, and anyone else involved need to be properly trained or refreshed on what to do in case of an emergency. Most of the centers or parks hosting these activities have automated external defibrillators (AED’s) on site for both participants and parents and need to be trained or refreshed on the use of these devices as well. When playing organized sports like baseball and football, there are pieces of safety equipment built into the helmets and pads and other parts of the uniforms. If your children have grown over the summer like mine have then you need to make sure that the equipment they are using fits properly and securely and delivers the maximum amount of safety it was designed for. Whether its helmets, groin protectors or even shoes, these should all be the proper size for best results.

As always, a little preparation makes all the difference and I wish you all the safest and best school/sports year.

Springtime Sports: How to Handle Kids’ Teeth Injuries

With the beginning of the spring sports season, we see an increased amount of trauma to children’s teeth. Many parents wonder what they need to do, who they need to see. Your family dentist is usually the best place to start. Most emergency rooms do not have a dentist on staff and may not have the expertise that your dentist does. The most common sports injuries are (1) fractured or chipped teeth, (2) teeth tran materially moved out of their normal position or forced out of place and (3) lacerations or cuts that may require stitches.

Fracturessports injuries

When a tooth is fractured or chipped, the dentist will take an x-ray to make sure the nerve or root of the tooth has not been affected. When a tooth is moved out of position the blood supply to the tooth can be interrupted leading to a darkening of the tooth and eventual death of the nerve. A root canal is then required.

A fractured tooth that is not bleeding or extremely painful would not require an emergency office visit. If the nerve is not affected, the dentist will proceed to repair the tooth with a tooth colored filling material. If too much tooth has been damaged, the tooth may require a crown. If the x-ray shows an injured root along with the fractured tooth, the tooth may require a root canal or even an extraction.

After the root canal or extraction, the tooth will be restored to as natural a shape and color as possible. Your dentist will determine the necessary treatment. Of course, custom sports mouth guards can help eliminate almost all these types of dental injuries.

Tooth Knocked Out

Teeth that are pushed so far out of their normal position that the bite is affected need to be treated immediately by being put back into their correct position. This is true for all adult teeth but is not so for baby teeth. Baby teeth will not reattach after being severely displaced so they will need to be removed in most cases.

If an adult tooth is forced out or avulsed, rinse the tooth off with water, holding the tooth by the crown and try to replace it in the socket. Do not scrub, dry or wrap the tooth; and avoid touching the root of the tooth. Ligaments attached to the root need to stay moist so the tooth may be successfully re-implanted. Placing the tooth in normal saline solution will also keep the root moist. There is a product one can purchase for just such an emergency called Save-A-Tooth. However, eye contact solution is not a good to use. If the tooth is successfully re-implanted within thirty minutes, the tooth will have a good chance of survival after a root canal is completed.

Cuts & Lacerations

Lacerations or cuts to the lip or tongue may require stitches if they are deep enough. Placing gentle pressure with a clean towel or gauze will help control the bleeding until you get to the dentist office. Your pediatric or family dentist is the best place to start with any dental emergency.

Most offices have emergency contact numbers for nights and weekends and are happy to help their patients in any dental emergency.

Why You Need to Stop Giving Energy and Sports Drinks to Kids

First let’s differentiate between these two popular drinks. Sport drinks have water, sodium, potassium and sugar (among other things), while energy drinks include caffeine or other stimulants. For the most part, after moderate exercise, only water needs to be replaced and free access to water is key to training athletes. While large amounts of water can be lost in highly trained athletes, younger children will probably not lose an exceptional amount of anything, and water is the only thing necessary. Even in adult trained athletes, the amount of sodium and potassium lost through sweating is probably negligible; again water is the vital component needing replacement.

Also included in these drinks is a significant amount of calorie- containing sugars; highly trained athletes who have depleted their sugar resources might benefit from this addition as an immediate energy boost, but in younger children and non-training athletes, this only adds to the sugar intake and can contribute to childhood obesity and dental cavities. These same stimulants can be found in coffee and colas, also to be avoided in younger children.

The use of stimulants in children probably has more unwanted side effects than the possibility of any positive effects. Jitteriness, poor sleep, elevated blood pressure, and increased risk of dehydration through the diuretic effects of caffeine and other stimulants, can be just a few of these negative effects. Depending on the quantities consumed, it can even lead to cardiac irregularities with other potentially serious consequences resulting from that

Unfortunately, these products are promoted in every form of advertising by highly popular athletes in high profile positions and many parents have gotten the idea to have these drinks readily available for their children. Children may actually prefer this substitute fluid in place of other drinks during meals and other snack times. Milk and some juices are still important to the growing, developing child and should not be forgotten. By far the most important ingredient remains water and parents should promote it as the primary source of fluid intake.

Energy or health bars create the same dilemmas for parents and children and may also contain sugar, stimulants, fats, and vitamins and minerals that may not be appropriate for children or may be over the daily recommended intake for children since most are developed for adults.

Always read the labels carefully

Child Sports Injuries: How to Prevent and Treat The Most Common

The school year will soon be upon us and with the return of homework and uniforms means the sports injuriesreturn of sports. 38 million children and adolescents participate in organized sports in the United States each year. Still more participate in informal recreational activities. Although sports participation provides numerous physical and social benefits, it also has a downside: the risk of sports-related injuries. In fact, according to a 2002 report by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1.9 million children under 15 were treated in emergency departments the year before for sports-related injuries.

These injuries are by far the most common cause of musculoskeletal injuries in children treated in emergency departments. They are also the single most common cause of injury-related primary care office visits.

I. The Most Common Sports-Related Injuries in Kids

Although sports injuries can range from scrapes and bruises to serious brain and spinal cord injuries, most fall somewhere between the two extremes. Here are some of the more common types of injuries.

Sprains and Strains

A sprain is an injury to a ligament, one of the bands of tough, fibrous tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint and prevents excessive movement of the joint. An ankle sprain is the most common athletic injury.

A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon. A muscle is a tissue composed of bundles of specialized cells that, when stimulated by nerve messages, contract and produce movement. A tendon is a tough, fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscle to bone. Muscles in any part of the body can be injured.

Growth Plate Injuries

In some sports accidents and injuries, the growth plate may be injured. The growth plate is the area of developing tissues at the end of the long bones in growing children and adolescents. When growth is complete, sometime during adolescence, the growth plate is replaced by solid bone. The long bones in the body include:

  • the long bones of the hand and fingers (metacarpals and phalanges)
  • both bones of the forearm (radius and ulna)
  • the bone of the upper leg (femur)
  • the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula)
  • the foot bones (metatarsals and phalanges).

If any of these areas become injured, it’s important to seek professional help from an orthopaedic surgeon, a doctor who specializes in bone injuries.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Painful injuries such as stress fractures (a hairline fracture of the bone that has been subjected to repeated stress) and tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon) can occur from overuse of muscles and tendons. Some of these injuries don’t always show up on x rays, but they do cause pain and discomfort. The injured area usually responds to rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Other treatments can include crutches, cast immobilization, and physical therapy.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat-related illnesses include:

  • dehydration (deficit in body fluids)
  • heat exhaustion (nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, heavy perspiration, normal or low body temperature, weak pulse, dilated pupils, disorientation, and fainting spells)
  • heat stroke (headache, dizziness, confusion, and hot dry skin, possibly leading to vascular collapse, coma, and death).

Heat injuries are always dangerous and can be fatal. Heat-related injuries are a particular problem for children because children perspire less than adults and require a higher core body temperature to trigger sweating. Playing rigorous sports in the heat requires close monitoring of both body and weather conditions. Fortunately, heat-related illnesses can be prevented.

II. Preventing and Treating Injuries

Injuries can happen to any child who plays sports, but there are some things that can help prevent and treat injuries.

Prevention Basics

  • Enroll your child in organized sports through schools, community clubs, and recreation areas that are properly maintained. Any organized team activity should demonstrate a commitment to injury prevention. Coaches should be trained in first aid and CPR, and should have a plan for responding to emergencies. Coaches should be well versed in the proper use of equipment, and should enforce rules on equipment use.
  • Organized sports programs may have adults on staff who are Certified Athletic Trainers. These individuals are trained to prevent, recognize, and provide immediate care for athletic injuries.
  • Make sure your child has—and consistently uses—proper gear for a particular sport. This may reduce the chances of being injured.
  • Make warm-ups and cool downs part of your child’s routine before and after sports participation. Warm-up exercises, such as stretching and light jogging, can help minimize the chance of muscle strain or other soft tissue injury during sports. Warm-up exercises make the body’s tissues warmer and more flexible. Cool down exercises loosen muscles that have tightened during exercise.
  • Make sure your child has access to water or a sports drink while playing. Encourage him or her to drink frequently and stay properly hydrated. Remember to include sunscreen and a hat (when possible) to reduce the chance of sunburn, which is a type of injury to the skin. Sun protection may also decrease the chances of malignant melanoma—a potentially deadly skin cancer—or other skin cancers that can occur later in life.
  • Learn and follow safety rules and suggestions for your child’s particular sport. You’ll find some more sport-specific safety suggestions below.

Primary Treatment

Treatment for sports-related injuries will vary by injury. But if your child suffers a soft tissue injury (such as a sprain or strain) or a bone injury, the best immediate treatment is easy to remember: RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) the injury (see below). Get professional treatment if any injury is severe. A severe injury means having an obvious fracture or dislocation of a joint, prolonged swelling, or prolonged or severe pain.

Treat Injuries with “RICE”

  • Rest: Reduce or stop using the injured area for at least 48 hours. If you have a leg injury, you may need to stay off of it completely.
  • Ice: Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times per day. Use a cold pack, ice bag, or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice that has been wrapped in a towel.
  • Compression: Ask your child’s doctor about elastics wraps, air casts, special boots, or splints that can be used to compress an injured ankle, knee, or wrist to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Keep the injured area elevated above the level of the heart to help decrease swelling. Use a pillow to help elevate an injured limb.

For Basketball…

  • Common injuries and locations: sprains; strains; bruises; fractures; scrapes; dislocations; cuts; injuries to teeth, ankles and knees. (Injury rates are higher in girls, especially for the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the wide ligament that limits rotation and forward movement of the shin bone.)
  • Safest playing with: eye protection, elbow and knee pads, mouth guard, athletic supporters for males, proper shoes, water. If playing outdoors, wear sunscreen and, when possible, a hat.
  • Injury prevention: strength training (particularly knees and shoulders), aerobics (exercises that develop the strength and endurance of heart and lungs), warmup exercises, proper coaching, and use of safety equipment.

For Track and Field…School-sports

  • Common injuries: strains, sprains, scrapes from falls.
  • Safest playing with: proper shoes, athletic supporters for males, sunscreen, water.
  • Injury prevention: proper conditioning and coaching.

For Football…

  • Common injuries and locations: bruises; sprains; strains; pulled muscles; tears to soft tissues such as ligaments; broken bones; internal injures (bruised or damaged organs); concussions; back injuries; sunburn. Knees and ankles are the most common injury sites.
  • Safest playing with: helmet; mouth guard; shoulder pads; athletic supporters for males; chest/rib pads; forearm, elbow, and thigh pads; shin guards; proper shoes; sunscreen; water.
  • Injury prevention: proper use of safety equipment, warmup exercises, proper coaching techniques and conditioning.

For Baseball and Softball…

  • Common injuries: soft tissue strains; impact injuries that include fractures caused by sliding and being hit by a ball; sunburn.
  • Safest playing with: batting helmet; shin guards; elbow guards; athletic supporters for males; mouth guard; sunscreen; cleats; hat; detachable,“breakaway bases” rather than traditional, stationary ones.
  • Injury prevention: proper conditioning and warmups.

For Soccer…

  • Staying safe in sportsCommon injuries: bruises, cuts and scrapes, headaches, sunburn.
  • Safest playing with: shin guards, athletic supporters for males, cleats, sunscreen, water.
  • Injury prevention: aerobic conditioning and warmups, and proper training in “heading” (that is, using the head to strike or make a play with the ball).

For Gymnastics…

  • Common injuries: sprains and strains of soft tissues.
  • Safest playing with: athletic supporters for males, safety harness, joint supports (such as neoprene wraps), water.
  • Injury prevention: proper conditioning and warmups.

III. Safety Tips for ALL Sports

  • Be in proper physical condition to play the sport.
  • Follow the rules of the sport.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear (for example, shin guards for soccer, a hard-shell helmet when facing a baseball or softball pitcher, a helmet and body padding for ice hockey).
  • Know how to use athletic equipment.
  • Always warm up before playing.
  • Avoid playing when very tired or in pain.
  • Get a preseason physical examination.
  • Make sure adequate water or other liquids are available to maintain proper hydration.

Adapted from Play It Safe, a Guide to Safety for Young Athletes, with permission of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Play It Safe in the Heat

  • Schedule regular fluid breaks during practice and games. Kids need to drink 8 ounces of fluid—preferably water—every 20 minutes, and more after playing.
  • Have your child wear light-colored,“breathable” clothing.
  • Make player substitutions more frequently in the heat.
  • Use misting sprays on the body to keep cool.
  • Know the signs of heat-related problems, including confusion; dilated pupils; dizziness; fainting; headache; heavy perspiration; nausea; pale and moist or hot, dry skin; weak pulse; and weakness. If your child experiences any combination of these symptoms or doesn’t seem quite right, seek medical attention immediately.

Adapted with permission from Patient Care magazine, copyrighted by Medical Economics.

Please keep your children active and safe and have a great school year.

 

Caution! Beware of Snowmobiles with Kids. As Risky as ATV’s

Having the opportunity to write for this amazing website has given me the opportunity to bring awareness to a wide range of topics which mostly come from experiences I have had responding to calls here in south Florida at my fire department. What I would like to speak out today is something I have NO experience with, Snowmobiles. I want to cover this because while planning a family ski trip I kept seeing snowmobiling as a thing to do and wanted to know more and how I can relate to them. What I found is that snow mobiles are ATV’s on snow. I wanted to compare the two. I looked at size, weight, speed, passenger room, and of course injuries, and here is what I found.

  • Both are gas powered.
  • Both have “dry weights” that can be 300lbs or higher!
  • Both can reach speeds well over 50 mph with some snowmobiles going well beyond that.
  • Both come in single or multi-passenger models.
  • Both have varying laws about operating age depending on the state you are in.
  • Both have caused fatal injuries to all age groups with snowmobiles having drowning added to its list.
  • Both list striking stationary objects such as trees as a major factor in accidents.
  • Both have leading causes of non-fatal injuries listed as head, neck, and face injuries.
  • Both list leading causes of head trauma due to a lack of proper helmet protection.
  • Both list excessive speed as a contributing factor in many accidents.
  • Both are susceptible to hidden dangers in the mud or snow respectively.

Having looked at all these factors, I found that snow mobiles are no different SAFETY wise than ATV’s. Yes driving on snow offers some obvious differences but the safety aspects are the SAME.

SNOWMOBILE vs. ATV: SAFETY FEATURES

  • Both are not recommended to be driven by anyone under 16 years of age.
  • Both should always be ridden with a proper helmet and any extra safety restraints when available.
  • Both should be ridden with reflective gear that can be seen at night.
  • Both should be driven cautiously and preferably by experienced drivers.
  • Both weigh a lot and require strength to drive properly.
  • Both should be driven away from bystanders and other traffic as to avoid collisions.
  • Both should be given the respect they deserve as powerful machines.

Having said all this and hopefully made you aware of how safety is similar in many recreational machines, I do not wish to discourage you from going out and riding these machines, I just want you to do it safely.

Good luck and stay warm.

Back-to-School Medical Exams: Parents, What You Need To Know

This exam is a very important part of good child health for many reasons. It gives the child, parents and physicians the opportunity to adequately evaluate the status, physical and emotional, of the child who is entering a new classroom setting. After being out and about for the summer months your child has been given enough time to break those school time habits and possibly get into a lifestyle not conducive to studying again. The exam time allows for physician and family to discuss this in front of the child.

If your child is an athlete, there are issues to discuss and recognize. An exam that focuses on the orthopedic, neurologic and cardiac systems is very important.

  • Family history can be reviewed and if it suggests genetic issues that may impact on a child’s ability to play a sport, testing can be undertaken prior to the sports season in order to clear such a child to play a given sport.
  • The issue of cerebral concussion during contact and sometimes non -contact sports can be addressed and the seriousness of this can be stressed to child and parent alike. More and more emphasis has been placed on the significance of such injuries, and rightfully so, as repeated concussions can lead to permanent problems
  • Orthopedic issues can be identified that may predispose an athlete student to further and more significant problems. These may result in alterations in training procedures such that emphasis is placed on protecting certain areas of the body.
  • There are issues that may prevent a child from playing an impact sport altogether; such as a single organ which is usually found in pairs- kidneys, eyes, testicles, etc. Certainly emphasis would be placed on avoiding injury to the remaining organ and might prohibit playing a certain sport. It is important for the child to hear such things directly from his/her Doctor, rather than be restricted by parents.

The pre-school exam can stress the importance of looking for aberrant behavior in class mates and avoiding such behavior: smoking, drugs, early sexual behavior, risk taking, just to name a few that in the presence of peer pressures might be difficult for a child to “just say no”.

Depending on the age of the child such issues as sexuality and gender issues can be addressed, including natural progression of puberty and beyond.

Immunizations can be reviewed and if not up to date, the proper recommendation can be given and the fears of parents and children about these immunizations can be openly discussed.

It is easy to see how this back-to-school medical exam is as important, if not more so, than obtaining the right papers, pencils, etc. Parents, please keep this in mind as the school year approaches

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