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1 in 10 Child Athletes Injured, Experts Say
Date:10/22/2010

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Sports participation among children and teens is a welcome trend, as it teaches teamwork and lays the groundwork for lifelong exercise, experts agree. Not so good, however, are the high rates of injury.

About 38 million kids and teens in the United States are in organized sports, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. And about one in 10 needs medical attention for a sports injury, according to Safe Kids USA, an advocacy group.

The organization has launched an educational initiative, supported by Johnson & Johnson, aimed at reducing the injuries by educating parents, kids and coaches.

"What we are really trying to draw attention to is, a lot of these injuries can hopefully be prevented," said Dr. Jamie Freishtat, a pediatrician, spokesperson and blogger for Safe Kids USA.

The wide range of injuries includes scrapes and bruises, sprains and strains, head injuries, heat-related injuries, and even death.

Some injuries are what doctors call acute -- a fracture or torn ligament are examples -- or caused by the gradual effects of muscle overuse. "The muscle just fatigues out," said Dr. John Hurley, an orthopedic surgeon at Summit Medical Group in Berkeley Heights, N.J., who is working with Safe Kids USA.

"These kids are specializing in sports when they are 7 or 8," he said, and the trend is not healthy. He is against a child playing the same sport for 12 months straight because it invites overuse injuries.

Parents can do much to reverse the injury statistics, Hurley and Freishtat agreed. Their tips:

  • Get a pre-participation physical for your child -- even if it isn't required. This should include an extensive medical history, including family history, Freishtat said. "The purpose is to promote health and safety, not exclude [the child from sports]."
  • Help your child create healthy,
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