Editor's Note: Over the past few months, the Pamplin Media Group and InvestigateWest have taken an in-depth look at the impact of brain injuries on Oregon's young athletes in a series called "Rattled: Oregon's Concussion Discussion." As part of that coverage — which will continue through the rest of the year and into 2019 — The Review asked Lake Oswego orthopedic surgeon Dr. Britton Frome to share her insights about preventing and treating sports injuries in columns that will run today and in the Sept. 20 issue of the newspaper.
The danger of a head injury in contact sports like football and even soccer has made headlines over the last year and brought attention to the bigger issue of kids' sports injuries.
Sports are a great way to teach kids to love a pastime that may keep them healthy into adulthood. As a parent, I'm busy taking my kids to practice, and as a doctor I'm often treating sports injuries, so injury prevention is top of my mind when it comes to my kids.
Here are four tips to help prevent injury so your children can play as long as they love the sport.
1. Be an extension of the coach
Kids that participate in recreational sports leagues or camps may be working with a volunteer coach. As a parent, it's worthwhile to learn more about a coach's style and training. Some things to consider
-- Does the coach encourage kids to play through the pain?
-- What is the procedure if injury occurs?
-- What are the coach's expectations for playing/attending practice when injured?
You can talk to the coach directly about these questions or ask other parents. Stay in touch through local parenting groups on Facebook and offer to help in areas that are lacking.
2. Warm up for practice
Although it seems like a no-brainer to warm up first, often kids arrive at practice and hit the ground running. Stretching before practice warms up muscles and relieves stress on tendons to prevent injury. Running short on time? Have your child do some stretching while in the car.
The GoNoodle Fresh Start Fitness videos on YouTube are a great resource for parents looking for ways to incorporate stretches, warm-ups and strength exercises into their kid's life without boring them with an adult workout video. I especially like their "Wake Up" exercise and stretch routine.
3. Try another sport or activity
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it has become more common for parents and coaches to encourage children to specialize in one sport. However, this can increase their risk of repetitive motion injuries and burnout.
The AAP encourages children to play multiple sports and delay specializing in a single sport until late adolescence. So in the offseason, encourage participation in other activities, whether organized or not. Fun, unorganized play in the yard with friends can also help build strength in other muscles and offer overused muscles a break.
4. Don't return to the game too soon
If your child does get hurt, make sure she is completely healed before returning to play. Depending on the kind of injury, she should be able to run without a limp, throw without difficulty, and have close to zero pain and swelling.
Starting too soon increases the risk of a re-injury. A study that analyzed a decade of data concluded that recurrent injuries resulted in greater time away from a sport, a higher risk of quitting a sport entirely, and a higher likelihood of surgery.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.