Keep them playing strong
Whether your young athlete plays baseball, softball, tennis, track, football, volleyball or any other sport, do you know the signs of sports injuries to look for in your kids?
“From the stands, it can be difficult to see what’s happening with your child after an injury or collision,” says Dr. Meagan Fernandez, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Geisinger Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics. “But there are signs and symptoms you can watch out for before and after the game.”
Here are four things to look out for if you suspect your child has a sports-related injury.
- Unexplained headache
If your child leaves the field with an unexplained headache or nausea, they could be dealing with dehydration.
“It’s often much cooler early in the spring season, and kids tend to forget to drink enough water when it isn’t as hot,” explains Dr. Fernandez. “Dehydration can cause symptoms like nausea, dizziness and headache, but studies show that they may also be more prone to concussions and other injuries without that fluid to act as a shock absorber.”
Thanks to awareness and advocacy campaigns in professional sports, concussion awareness is growing every day. However, sports like track, volleyball and baseball aren’t commonly associated with the condition, leaving them underdiagnosed.
“If your child is dizzy or seems confused after a violent shake or sudden impact to the head and neck, they may have a concussion,” says Dr. Fernandez. “If this is the case, it’s important to call their doctor or physical therapist for evaluation and treatment.”
You may associate sprains and strains with an adult weekend warrior, but our children are also susceptible to these conditions. An expected or awkward twist or turn in the joints may cause the muscles and ligaments supporting the joint to over-stretch or tear, leading to pain, stinging and weakness.
“Most sprains and strains heal themselves with rest and regular icing, but if your child doesn’t notice an improvement in one to two weeks, you might want to consult with their doctor,” adds Dr. Fernandez.
If your child is suddenly out of breath during exercises that normally come easily, it might be time to visit your doctor. Asthma is a common culprit, but breathlessness can also be a sign of an irregular heart.
“Ideally, your young athlete should have a full examination done before every season,” notes Dr. Fernandez. “In-depth physicals and heart scans can protect against changes to their heartbeat, rate and rhythm, as well as their lung health and capacity.”
If your child does experience an injury or health issue, it’s important to make sure they heal fully before they return to sports.
Your child’s doctor will be able to give your family the full details for rest and recovery, as well as healthy habits and tips to strengthen their bodies and prevent future injuries.
“They’re still kids, and they think they’re invincible,” says Dr. Fernandez. “That’s where we come in.”
Does your little (or big) athlete need treatment for a sports injury? Located right in our Woodbine Clinic in Danville, Geisinger’s Orthopaedic Urgent Care walk-in clinic treats sports injuries for children, adults and athletes of all ages. Come visit us as soon as your injury occurs – no appointment needed.
Meagan Fernandez, DO, is a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon who sees patients at Geisinger locations in Danville, Lemoyne, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre and Pottsville. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Fernandez for your child, visit Geisinger.org or call 1-800-275-6401.