Kids Safety Campaign Is Just What the Doctor Ordered

From the WebMD Archives

May 4, 2000 -- One in three kids is injured while participating in team sports, and more than half of these injuries can be prevented, according to a survey released Thursday to launch the start of National Safe Kids Week.

Participating in team sports builds self-esteem and encourages healthy lifestyles, but parents need to know that getting hurt isn't just part of the game, says campaign chairman C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD, a pediatrician and former U.S. Surgeon General.

To explore how sports-related injuries could be reduced, researchers conducted 750 telephone interviews with parents around the country. All respondents had at least one child between the ages of five and 14 participating in organized football, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, or T-ball.

The data indicated that a huge number U.S. households have one or more children participating in team sports, which most parents see as an important part of their children's lives. At the same time, more than 50% of parents believe sports injuries are inevitable, and many don't use the same safety precautions during practices as they do in actual games.

In response to the findings, the Safe Kids Campaign aims to educate families about sports safety. Beginning Friday, bilingual brochures about protective gear will be distributed throughout the country. Safety tips will also be available at retail stores nationwide. At local events, athletic trainers and sports figures will demonstrate conditioning techniques and methods of safe play.

Doctors say this safety initiative is right on time, because more than three million kids suffer sports injuries each year. "There's an inherent risk of injury in any sport, but good training and equipment offsets a lot of it," says Lewis Maharam, MD, president of the New York chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Maharam tells WebMD that many sports injuries, such as broken bones, dislocated joints, and torn ligaments, can be prevented through proper conditioning. "Both practice and competition should begin with warm-up and stretching exercises, but different sports use different muscle groups," says Maharam. "That's why coaches need the support of certified athletic trainers."

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Maharam adds that protective headgear is essential in both team sports and recreation. "A helmet is just as important for an in-line skater or a cyclist as it is for a football player," says Maharam. "And even though a good helmet is expensive, it costs a whole lot less than a head injury. The same principle also applies with elbow, wrist, and knee pads."

Doctors say fluid intake helps prevent heat illness, particularly during the summer months. "Kids often become dehydrated when playing sports in warm weather, so parents and coaches should provide plenty of water or sports drinks," says Martin Eichelberger, MD, the director of emergency trauma at Children's National Medical Center, a campaign co-sponsor.

Vital Information:

  • One in three kids is injured while participating in team sports, and more than half of these injuries can be prevented.
  • Muscle conditioning helps prevent broken bones, dislocated joints, and torn ligaments. Practice and competitions should always begin with warm-up and stretching exercises.
  • In preventing head injury, helmets are just as important for in-line skaters and cyclists as they are for football players.
  • Fluid intake helps prevent heat illness, particularly during the summertime. Parents and coaches should provide plenty of water or sports drinks.

For more information about Safe Kids, please visit www.safekids.org

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