It can be scary when your child gets hurt. It is important though that you remain calm, not only so you can think clearly but so you don’t scare or upset your child. Check your child to make sure the injury isn’t serious such as broken bones, dislocated body parts, or a major trauma. If those aren’t the case and you believe it is a sprain, bruise or pulled muscle, with a couple of simple acts, you can reduce the time your child is out of play and decrease the chance they will re-injure themselves by following just a couple guidelines.
The very first thing you need to do if you suspect your child is injured is remove them from play. Continuing to play on an injury can make it worse. Let your child rest. The next step is to ice the injury. Ice will reduce swelling and pain and help the injury heal quicker. Avoid heat the first 3 days. Heat can delay the healing process by increasing swelling and often also increases pain. If possible, compress the injury using an ace wrap. You want to wrap it so it is a little tighter below the injury and looser above. Make sure to not cut off circulation though, monitor that blood is still flowing well by feeling to make sure the area isn’t cold or turning colors. Keeping the injured area above the heart will also help to reduce the swelling and increase the healing.
A good way to remember these steps is RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation. If after 3-4 days of RICE your child isn’t doing any better, it is worth it to get them to their primary care doctor. Sometimes injuries can take a little longer than we would like to get better, but most of the time they will heal on their own with just a little time.
When your child is better, don’t rush them back into play. Easing back into sports is best for the child and the injury. If your child immediately goes back and starts playing at the level they were at before injury, they could re-injure themselves or cause a new injury.
Another common injury for children is a concussion. Common symptoms reported are headache, dizziness, blurry vision, feeling “off” and memory problems. If you suspect a concussion or brain injury, have your child rest. Rest is the only way to heal a concussion, and doing activities that make your brain work, such as video games and texting, can actually delay the healing process. It is advisable to take your child to the doctor so the concussion is cared for properly. Do not let your child return to sports until they no longer have any symptoms of a concussion, both at rest and when they start to be active again, and ideally have been cleared by their doctor.
Following these simple steps can help reduce the amount of time your child misses from sports and also decrease their chance of re-injury or new injury. If your child is not doing better or you have other questions, seek out a qualified healthcare professional, such as a doctor, nurse or athletic trainer.