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Daily Newscasts

School Athletes Need Preparation to Prevent Injuries

August 22, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Whether it's football, soccer, cheer-leading, or tee-ball, fall sports season is already in full swing for many kids in Missouri. Experts warn that, without the proper precautions, children can be vulnerable to injury.

Dr. Nicholas Edwards, a sports medicine pediatric specialist, says injuries often result when kids rush into sports without proper conditioning. He advises young athletes to know their limits.

"You either some have internal pressure from the athlete, or external pressure from the coaches or parents, telling them to go past their limits. So, if you listen to yourself and listen to your body, you know where that line is."

Dr. Edwards recommends easing into sports and starting with lower-intensity practices. He also stresses the need for kids to drink plenty of fluids, take frequent breaks, wear light clothing, and limit their sun exposure, especially in the hottest parts of the day. If an injury does occur, he suggests an evaluation as soon as possible by an athletic trainer or the child's doctor, so they'll know if, and when, they're ready to get back onto the field.

He says safety equipment can reduce a child's chances of being one of the 4.4 million kids between ages five and 18 who end up in hospital emergency rooms each year. He adds that correct sizing of the equipment is critical.

"Whether it's shin guards for soccer or helmets for football, it needs to be appropriately fit to that athlete. If something is moving around and doesn't fit right, that can either cause an injury in and of itself, or not prevent the injury that it's been designed to prevent."

He says one of the cheapest and easiest pieces of gear to use is a mouth guard, which cushions blows that can cause lost or broken teeth, concussions or jaw fractures. It costs as little as a dollar and is recommended for all contact and collision sports.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO