May 26, 2011

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt Offers Summer Sports Safety Tips

With temperatures on the upswing and youth sports in high gear, many young athletes are at increased risk for injury and heat illness.

With more children than ever playing organized sports, an estimated 3.5 million young athletes receive medical treatment for sports-related injuries each year.

In an effort to reduce this number, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is offering safety tips for parents and coaches, and is partnering with Safe Kids Cumberland Valley to offer free youth sports safety clinics this summer. The educational clinics will cover topics such as overuse and acute injuries, hydration, heat-related injury, concussion and safety equipment.

“We know most coaches and parents are concerned about the issue of sports safety, but lack the skill set to prevent and recognize important injuries and emergencies,” said Alex Diamond, D.O., M.P.H., assistant professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and Pediatrics and project coordinator for the sports safety clinics. “The welfare of our children is a shared responsibility, and we hope to put ourselves in a unique position to really provide a direct benefit to our community on a regional and national level.”

In order to keep child athletes safe, Diamond offers the following tips to parents and coaches:

• Ensure that a pre-participation physical exam, meeting updated national recommendations, is performed each year.

• Create a plan on how everyone should respond in case of an emergency.

• Maintain proper hydration to avoid heat-related illness.

• Provide appropriate periods for rest and recovery to prevent overuse injuries.

Diamond also says it is crucial for parents and coaches to recognize signs of a concussion, and to make sure children receive proper medical treatment if one is suspected.

Some additional sports safety tips for children include always wearing the right protective equipment for your sport, such as pads, helmets, face guards and eyewear, and following all safety rules of the sport in both practices and games.

Safe Kids Cumberland Valley, the local Safe Kids coalition representing 41 counties in Middle Tennessee, was one of 50 sites nationwide to receive grant funding to support sports safety clinics. Organizers plan to host two clinics in Davidson County and one in Williamson County in the coming months.

At the clinics, community safety experts as well as staff from Vanderbilt Sports Medicine and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt will discuss key sports safety messages with youth athletes and parents as well as coaches, school personnel and health care professionals. The clinics are free and open to anyone.

For dates of upcoming sports safety clinics and detailed sports safety information, click here.