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Playing sports is good for you in many ways. It's a great way to be active, connect with friends, ease stress, and enjoy your free time.

Still, injuries can happen.

If you've had a sports injury, here are five ways to minimize the impact on your wallet.

1. Understand Your Injury

Have you had a doctor check out your injury? That's the first step to let you find out:

  • How serious the injury is
  • What the recovery will be like
  • Any limitations you'll have while you heal

The more you know, the easier it will be to make financial plans. And talking with your doctor is important if you intend to apply for disability assistance.

2. Go to Physical Therapy

If your doctor prescribes physical therapy for your injury, go. The rehab will help you recover.

Some health insurance plans limit payments for rehabilitation. So check with your carrier to see what your policy offers.

3. Talk to Your Employer

If you'll be sidelined for a short time, you may be able to negotiate a leave of absence from work. That way you'll collect all or part of your paycheck.

Depending on what kind of work you do, you may be able to take on other responsibilities while you recover from your injury. Or you may be able to work from home. The human resources manager at your job can let you know about your options.

4. Look Into Disability Assistance

If you may be out of work for several months or longer, check on options for disability assistance.

Group or private disability insurance. Some employers offer disability insurance plans for all employees. Ask your human resources manager if you have it. Keep in mind that you can't get disability insurance for an injury that has already happened.

You may also be able to get benefits from a private disability insurance policy.

"Private disability insurance plans typically pay all or most of your pre-disability income for the first year or two if you cannot perform the duties of the job you held before becoming disabled," says Nancy G. Shor, an expert in disability coverage. Shor is executive director of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives.  "After two years, many policies continue paying only if you are unable to do any kind of work."

State disability assistance. Some states offer their own disability insurance plans. Requirements vary widely. Contact your state's department of employment for information.

Social Security disability. Social Security offers disability benefits. You may qualify if you are unable to do the work you were doing before your injury. You may also qualify if you can't do any other kind of work because of physical or mental impairment.    

Medicare. If you are disabled and unable to work for more than two years, you qualify for Medicare. That's the case even if you are below retirement age.

Medicare can be particularly helpful if your disability involves ongoing medical costs.

Workers' compensation. Most sports injuries aren't covered by workers' compensation, which is typically limited to injuries on the job. There are exceptions, however. You may be covered if you're injured during an activity sponsored by your employer. And you might also be covered if the injury happened during an activity that your employer specifically encouraged you to do.