Hudson Valley Parent

HVP September 2015

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22 Hudson Valley Parent ■ September 2015 By MALIA JACOBSON S ports injuries are sidelining more young athletes than ever before, a trend that concerns doctors, coaches, and parents. According to the STOP Sports Inju- ry Campaign, 2 million sports injuries strike high school students each year. Doctors are seeing serious injuries in children as young as 5; kids under 14 account for 40 percent of sports-relat- ed injuries treated in hospitals. For some, injuries are a temporary setback. Basketball player McKenzie Heaslet, then 18, missed only two days of practice after a wayward elbow shattered her nose during a game. One month later, she played in her third straight state champi- onship game, winning the title with her teammates. Her mom, Dianne, knows the injury could have been much worse. "We got really lucky," she says. Many others aren't as fortunate. Sports injuries can stop budding ath- letes in their tracks and reduce their ability to enjoy healthy exercise later in life, says Lyle J. Micheli, M.D., director of sports medicine at Boston Children's Hospital and professor of orthopedics at Harvard Medical School. Doctors point to several reasons for recent increases in injury rates: greater recognition of some types of injury (like concussion); year- round training for athletes; and more intense training at younger ages. "Young kids—11, 12 years old—are swimming thousands of yards a day," says Micheli. "A decade ago, we wouldn't see that type of training intensity until college." Fear of injury shouldn't stop kids from participating in sports, though. Organized sports boost fi tness and teach important skills like coopera- tion, perseverance, and team build- ing. Help ensure that your budding athlete stays on the fi eld and out of the emergency room with the right safety measures. Focus on fun Enjoyment is the key to safe sportsmanship, says Micheli, so make sure kids truly want to participate. Those who play to please parents, friends, or coaches, instead of for pure enjoyment, may be less likely to take a break if they're in pain or fatigued. Watch for signs of burnout, in- cluding irritability, trouble sleeping, Kids are especially vulnerable to injury during growth spurts. If your child is growing (sudden increases in appetite and sleep needs are signs of a growth spurt), take extra safety precautions. Safer sports 8 ways to protect young athletes from injuries (Continued on Page 24)

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