It’s youth sports season, a time of year that parents both love and dread. Participating in sports activities can teach children valuable lessons about teamwork and persistence, but engaging in any sport comes with the risk of injury. If an injury does occur, do you have a care plan in place for your child?
“If a young athlete is injured without an athletic trainer or physician around,” says Nic Keuler, Lead Athletic Trainer at Fort Hamilton Hospital, “the best indicator of the need for an emergency room visit is pain level and function. For instance, a joint injury resulting in a lot of pain and limited movement may need to be treated by an emergency department.”
However, when it comes to treating youth, not every emergency department is created equally. Children are especially vulnerable to sports injuries because their bodies are still growing, and they may be less coordinated and react more slowly than adults. Many emergency departments simply don’t have the specialized staff on hand to treat youth.
The Fort Hamilton Hospital emergency department is uniquely qualified to treat youth sports injuries. According to Fort Hamilton Hospital Nurse Manager-Emergency Department Pam Klaber, about a third of those seen at their emergency department are under 18. “The emergency department physicians are board certified emergency medicine,” says Klaber, “and our nurses are Pediatric Advanced Life Support trained, giving them the necessary expertise to handle the specialized care needed in pediatric emergencies.”
Fort Hamilton Hospital has also partnered with area high schools to provide sports medicine services for their schools and athletes. The core of the partnership centers around the direct care of the student athlete and rapid access to sports medicine care to help students return to the sports they love as soon as possible.
In addition to the sports medicine component with these schools, a hospital clinician is also routinely available to connect the students, their families, and faculty to resources within the health system to support improved access to health care.
While Keuler reminds parents that many injuries are unpreventable, he says that the best way to prevent injuries is to warm up and stretch properly before a practice or competition. To prevent overuse injuries, one should avoid making the same repetitive motion over and over again. Things like pitching a baseball every day or doing too much running too soon can lead to overuse injuries. “It’s best to allow the young athlete to play as many different sports as possible,” says Keuler, “to keep active and not get burned out on any one sport.”