What Parents Should Know About Sports Injuries In Teenage Athletes


Sports can be a great outlet for kids and teens. Playing sports allows them to use their energy in a healthy way, get exercise, build self-confidence and self-esteem, and practice important values, like being a team player and working hard to achieve a goal. Sports can also encourage teens who struggle academically to apply themselves and keep their grades up so they can continue to participate – and good grades and athletic ability can translate into more college opportunities later. However, sports can also lead to injuries, and while it's not uncommon for teens to think of themselves as invincible, you as a parent have to consider the risks of allowing your teenager to participate in sports as well as the rewards. Take a look at some of the things parents should know about preventing sports injuries in teenagers.

What Are the Risks?

Before you can begin to look for ways to protect your teen, it's important to know what the risks are. Statistics say that more than 3.5 million teenagers and children suffer injuries related to playing team or individual sports or participating in athletic activities every year. These injuries include some that you'd expect, like fractures, arm and leg sprains and strains, tennis elbow, and shin splints. There are also some injuries that you might not expect, like whiplash. Though most people associate whiplash with car accidents, anything that causes the head to move forward and backward rapidly – as it might when an athlete is tackled in a contact sport – can cause whiplash.

In fact, whiplash can even lead to another, even more serious injury – a concussion. Many people are not aware that you can sustain a concussion even without a direct blow to the head. An impact that is severe enough to cause whiplash could also cause the jarring and movement of the brain inside the skull that causes a concussion.

How To Prevent Sports Injuries

Preventing sports injuries is a multi-faceted process. You, your teenager, your teenager's coach, and your teenager's medical care providers should all work together to help prevent sports injuries. Before your teen begins participating in a sport, they should have a complete physical exam. If your teen is new to athletics and is normally sedentary or isn't physically fit, they should start slow and get in shape before throwing themselves into a new sport. Your teen should always wear recommended safety equipment and dress properly for the sport. Cross-training can help your teen avoid putting too much strain on the same body parts all of the time, and their coach should stress the importance of proper warm-ups and stretches.

There is some evidence that chiropractic care can help prevent sports injuries. A study of a group of Australian athletes found that the athletes receiving preventative chiropractic care, like manipulative therapy, mobilization, and soft-tissue therapies, sustained fewer injuries and missed less playing time than athletes who only received medical and sports science management.

The Importance of Early Treatment

Not all injuries are preventable, of course. If your teen does sustain an injury, early treatment is key. It's important to impress on your teen that they need to say something when they have an injury. It's not uncommon for teenage athletes to try to play through the pain rather than miss a big game or let down the team. However, doing so is rarely a good idea. Playing on a minor injury could exacerbate it, resulting in an even more serious injury.

In addition to pain, you and your teen should be on the lookout for swollen areas, especially swelling around a joint, and also joint instability. If your teen suffers a whiplash event, they should be checked out even if they feel OK – whiplash symptoms often don't appear right away, but your chiropractor should be able to detect injuries to the soft tissue. Head injuries that result in unconsciousness or that are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, imbalance, or memory loss should receive immediate emergency treatment.

Don't let fear of an injury stop your teen from participating in a sport they enjoy. Instead, take precautions, seek out preventative care, and don't wait to get medical care when an injury occurs. Talk to a chiropractor at an office like TLC Chiropractic for more advice.


22 July 2016

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