What you can do to help keep your child healthier and lower their risk
Recently, two doctors from Washington Township Medical Foundation’s
(WTMF) Sports Medicine program---Russell Nord, MD, and Michael Goldin,
MD—held a one-day clinic giving low cost, pre-participation sports
physicals to athletes at local high schools.
“Besides fulfilling State and school requirements, the exams help
identify factors that might put a child at risk of injury or certain medical
problems,” said Dr. Nord, an orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine
specialist and medical director of the Washington Sports Medicine program.
Recently, Dr. Nord volunteered to be a coach for his daughter’s soccer
team, so he views safety in kids’ sports from multiple perspectives,
as physician, parent and coach.
Dr. Goldin, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist with WTMF,
added: “The physicals are a good way for young people, who generally
don’t see doctors very often, to have an encounter with a trained
medical provider. Not only does it allow us to screen for basic health-related
conditions like blood pressure, pulse, and vision, it also establishes
a relationship with a doctor in the event that the child gets injured
or ill during the season and needs medical care.”
Be an advocate
No matter how old your son or daughter is or what sport he or she wants
to play, having a physical exam is important. However, it is not the only
thing you, as a parent, should do to minimize risk and help ensure safety.
You should also serve as an advocate for your child, encouraging injury
prevention and supporting overall healthy practices, like using sunscreen
and staying hydrated, the doctors emphasized.
“One key is to avoid encouraging your child to overspecialize in
a single sport at an early age,” recommended Dr. Nord.
By involving your child in a broad range of sports, you can help avoid
injuries caused by overuse or repetitive motion. Children are vulnerable
to these types of injuries because they have open growth plates, which
are weak points in the skeletal system.
Connect with the coach
As good advocates, parents should also understand the role of and communicate
with other responsible adults involved with their child’s sport
or team, such as coaches and certified athletic trainers.
“Parents have certain expectations about the role of their child’s
coach when it comes to injuries and safety,” stated Dr. Nord. “A
coach is trained to be conscious of the risks a child may be exposed to
when playing a sport, but the coach is not a trained medical professional.”
Dr. Nord recommended that parents take a different perspective when communicating
with their child’s coach. Focus more on the coach’s philosophy
in managing the team. What is his or her goal? Is it to win championships?
Or, is it to teach the children how to play a sport and work as a team?
“When the overall philosophies of the parents and coach are aligned,
the experience will be more positive and successful for everyone, including
the child,” he continued.
What athletic trainers can do
These days, some high schools are engaging certified athletic trainers
to help out with some sports. They are usually trained and experienced
at recognizing whether or not an injury is serious and knowing what steps
to take in the first few minutes after an injury before more help can
arrive. Usually present at practices and games or competitions, athletic
trainers can advise when an injury warrants medical attention. For less
serious injuries, trainers can help with rehabilitation and may also recommend
that your child see a doctor when the injury is not improving as expected.
Despite all the training, preparation and good intentions, kids can still
get injured while playing or practicing. In this event, parents should
know what steps to take.
“Parents know their child better than anyone, but some kids aren’t
complainers or simply want to keep playing,” advised Dr. Nord. “So,
for an injury that does not require immediate care, parents should err
on the side of caution. If pain persists or the condition continues to
nag your child for more than a couple of days, or if the child is not
acting like his or her normal self, you should have them checked out by
a doctor. There is very little downside to doing this.”
What to do about concussions
One sports-related injury that has caused a lot of concern is the concussion.
“Although the common perception is that most concussions happen to
football players in high school, college and professional sports, younger
children can also be at risk for concussion,” stated Dr. Goldin.
“And, it can happen to both boys and girls in other sports, such
as soccer, wrestling and basketball.”
If you would like to learn more about concussion signs, symptoms and proper
treatment, come to an upcoming free Health & Wellness seminar “Get
a Head Up on Concussions.” Led by Drs. Goldin and Nord, the class
will be held Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m. For more information or to reserve
your spot, go to whhs.com and click on events or call (800) 963-7070.
To learn more about Washington Sports Medicine program, go online to
whhs.com and select Services. For more information about Washington Township Medical