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Ohio Doctor: Play Smart to Stay Safe During Fall Sports

Some 775,000 kids ages 14 and under are treated in the nations emergency rooms for sports related injuries annually. (Pixabay)
Some 775,000 kids ages 14 and under are treated in the nations emergency rooms for sports related injuries annually. (Pixabay)
August 17, 2016

CINCINNATI - Along with a winning attitude, health experts say Ohio athletes should also play smart as the Fall sports season kicks into gear. Each year, over 775,000 kids ages 14 and under are treated in the nation's emergency rooms for sports-related injuries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Kate Berz, assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Sports Medicine at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, explained that athletes get hurt from overexertion, falls, collisions or being struck by an object.

And while some injuries cannot be prevented, she said the risk can be reduced.

"Report injuries and know the signs and symptoms of head injuries," she said. "I can't stress enough to gradually increase activity and stay well-hydrated. Those are the just few easy things that would hopefully put me out of business and keep kids from coming into me injured."

Berz noted any recommended protective equipment should be worn and well-fitted. She said athletes should also immediately tell their coach or parent if they are hurt, dizzy or have a lapse in memory after taking a blow to the head.

When temperatures soar at the start of the season, heat illness and dehydration are concerns. Berz stressed the need to drink 16 ounces of water an hour prior to a sports activity, and five to 10 ounces every 15 minutes during it.

"If you're not hydrated then you're not going to feel good and you are not going to perform well," she added. "And not drinking enough water can lead to headaches, fatigue, and really just not feeling good."

Berz said sports participation teaches many important lessons including commitment, working together for a cause, and how to get along with others. But she warned against a "win-at-all-cost" mentality that may lead to a kid pushing through an injury.

"They may get a football tackle where they don't feel right after the tackle but they think, 'We are almost going to win this game so I need to stay in.' That's a bad attitude because they're going to hurt themselves, or may harm other people on their team," she said.

Another common scenario at the start of the season is overuse injury caused by excessive year-round training, or rapid ramp-up after sitting around all summer. Berz recommends athletes ease into new training, take one day off a week from scheduled sports activity and participate in no more than one sport per season.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH