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Increase seen in sports-related injuries, Vanderbilt offers free sports safety clinic, safety tips for parents and coaches

Sep. 14, 2012, 7:00 AM

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With the start of football season and other fall sports, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is seeing a significant increase in cases of concussions, heat exhaustion and overuse injuries in its Emergency Department.

Nationally, an estimated 3.5 million young athletes receive medical treatment for sports-related injuries each year.

Children’s Hospital urges parents and coaches to follow some important safety tips, as well as attend a free youth sports safety clinic on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 5:30 p.m. at St. Matthew School in Franklin, Tenn.

Doctors and safety experts will host the interactive session, which is open to the public and will cover topics such as overuse and acute injuries, hydration, heat-related injury, concussion and proper safety equipment.

Alex Diamond, D.O., MPH, assistant professor of Pediatrics, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and medical director of the Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports (PIPYS) at Vanderbilt, said about  9 percent of children who are injured each year quit playing sports altogether.

“Sports and exercise provide a number of health benefits both physically and socially,” said Diamond. “We’re trying to prevent injury so children can continue to participate safely and do what they love, as well as carry healthy physical fitness habits into adulthood.”

In order to keep child athletes safe, Diamond offers the following tips to parents and coaches:

  • Maintain proper hydration to avoid heat-related illness
  • Provide appropriate periods for rest and recovery to prevent overuse injuries
  • Ensure that a pre-participation physical exam, meeting updated national recommendations, is performed
  • Create a plan on how everyone should respond in case of an emergency

Diamond also says it is crucial for parents and coaches to recognize signs of a concussion, and to make sure children receive proper medical treatment if one is suspected.

Some additional sports safety tips for children include always wearing the right protective equipment for your sport, such as pads, helmets, face guards and eyewear, and following all safety rules of the sport in both practices and games.

The upcoming sports safety clinic is one of many Vanderbilt-led efforts this year to help prevent sports-related injuries, including the launch of Vanderbilt’s CoachSmart App and pre-concussion baseline tests for young athletes.

To register for the Sept 19 event or for information on organizing a session in your neighborhood, call (615) 936-SAFE (7233) or contact Sarah Haverstick, Safe Children Program manager at Children’s Hospital, at (615) 936-7656 or sarah.haverstick@vanderbilt.edu.

Visit Children’s Hospital’s website for detailed sports safety information.

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