Cuts and bruises, scrapes and grazes… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Children inevitably experience injuries at various points, even more so if they’re sporty. So, whether you’re a parent who doesn’t know what to do about your child’s swollen ankle, or a teacher who knows where to buy sports equipment from (here, for instance), but hasn’t a clue about treating injuries on the pitch, here’s what you need to know…
Children’s bodies are particularly susceptible to injuries
Due to the fact that children’s bodies are still growing, they’re more likely to incur serious injuries than adults.
This is due to the fact that children have something called ‘growth plates’ in their bodies. These growth plates are areas of developing tissues at the end of long bones, and they’re only found in children and teenagers. These growth plates are eventually replaced with solid bone once a child has reached adulthood, but the ‘flexible’ nature of their skeletons in the mean time can result in sports injuries that are particularly serious.
If the long bones of your child’s hands, fingers, forearms, upper legs, lower legs or foot bones appear to be injured, be sure to have your child examined by a medical professional. These are the areas where you’ll find growth plates in children, and are therefore very important to treat correctly.
Also, children’s bodies become less ‘flexible’ when they’re having growth spurts. When bones grow, the muscles become tighter. The muscles respond by stretching constantly, and as a result, injuries to muscle groups can be more likely to occur. Take complaints of muscle pain seriously too, and make sure that children do the stretches recommended by their physiotherapist if an injury does indeed turn out to be more serious.
It’s better to be safe than sorry
For the reasons above, it’s important to take children’s sports injuries seriously. Bangs to the head (especially if a child seems confused, dizzy, nauseous or sleepy) should always be checked out by medical professionals, immediately. Head straight to your local A&E if your child is in severe pain, or something is obviously broken. If your child seems to be OK but is later complaining of pain, consider booking an appointment with your family’s GP.
If an injury doesn’t look too severe, use PRICE therapy.
Sprains and strains aren’t usually very serious, so they can be treated at home using PRICE therapy.
Protection: make sure your child stops playing sport for the time being, taking weight off the injured area.
Rest: your child needs to temporarily stop exercising, and should skip some normal daily activities. For instance, a sprained wrist is the perfect reason to be excused from emptying the dishwasher!
Ice: apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas to the affected area for twenty minutes at a time, once every three hours. Do not hold ice over the area constantly, and ensure that ice packs and frozen peas are contained within a clean bag or a clean plastic covering so that your child doesn’t receive an ice burn.
Compression: use elastic compression bandages to reduce swelling. However, it’s only advisable to do this once your child has been examined by a medical professional – compressing an area that needs to swell a little can do more harm than good, as the excess liquid causing the swelling in an injured area is there to protect your child’s body.
Elevation: keep the injured part of the body elevated up in the air or on a cushion or pillow when possible. The aim is to keep the injured area above the heart whenever possible. As a bonus, this will hopefully help to reduce swelling too.
Hopefully, your child will have recovered within a few days. If their injury seems to be causing them pain for longer than this, take them to your GP as they may need referring to a specialist for assessment and treatment.
However, once your child is better, it’s important that you encourage them back into sport. Exercise will help to reduce their chance of obesity, and will help to ensure their body is generally functioning as well as it can be. Just make sure that you’re not pushing them too hard, and that your child knows the preventative measures they can take to avoid being side-lined with an injury in future. If your child seems to be going through a growth spurt, consider talking to their coaches and sports teachers to see what they recommend.