Treatment of children’s sports-related injuries

Library Articles | October 17, 2017

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According to a 2002 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the 30 million children who play sports each year in the US, nearly 1.9 million of those children are injured and the most common injury is musculoskeletal. These type of injuries are injuries to children’s muscles, tendons, tissues, and bones.

There are recommendations for how parents should treat children’s sports injuries from
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, NIAMS/National Institutes of Health.
The NIH recommends the RICE method of treating children’s sports injuries:

  • Rest: Reduce or stop using the injured area for at least 48 hours. If it is a leg injury, stay off of it completely.
  • Ice: Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, 4 to 8 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 elastic 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.

The NIH has safety tips for parents when their children are participating in organized sports:

  • Make sure kids are in appropriate physical condition to play organized sports
  • Have children get a physical from a doctor before participating
  • Make sure the coach uses the property safety equipment for each sport
  • Teach children the proper rules for each sport
  • Make sure children always warm up before playing
  • Teach children how to wear the appropriate protective gear
  • Make sure children are not playing when they are too tired
  • Don’t allow children to play sports during bad weather
  • Make sure children get adequate water during play to keep hydrated

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

Other Useful Links 

  • Arthritis Foundation (AF):
  • American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS ):
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
  • American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM):
  • American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM):
  • National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA):
  • American Physical Therapy Association (APTA):
  • American College of Rheumatology:
  • National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS):
  • National SAFE KIDS Campaign:
  • National Youth Sports Safety Foundation:
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