Back-to-school: Protecting your athletes from sports-related injuries

All sports have a high occurrence of sprains of the ankles and knees, and even concussions.

It’s back-to-school time, and that means young athletes are hitting the books and the playing field.

But before they get in the game, it’s important to teach your athlete the signs of concussion and how to prevent them, as well as other sports-induced injuries.

Dr. Thomas Gowan, Pediatric Emergency Room Medical Director, said all sports have a high occurrence of sprains of the ankles and knees, and even concussions. There is a high frequency of ligament tears such as the ACL and MCL in the knees as well.

  • Football — Sprains of the ankles and knees as well as concussions
  • Soccer — Sprains of ankles and ligament tears in the knee and ankles
  • Baseball — Primarily sprains in the knee and torn ligaments in the shoulders.
  • Basketball — Ligament tears and fractured or sprained ankles.

Concussions are caused by the athletes’ head striking or bumping into a hard object such as another player or the ground, that causes the players head to move rapidly back and forth, Gowan said.

Symptoms are headaches, ringing in the ears, nausea and vomiting, fatigue or drowsiness and blurred vision. Other symptoms may include confusion and amnesia and even temporary loss of consciousness.

  • Short term — Headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea and vomiting.
  • Long Term — Trouble concentrating, memory problems and loss, irritability and personality changes, light and noise sensitivity.

If the bone is broken, you will be unable to bare any weight on the extremity, Gowan said. If the injured area immediately develops swelling and bruising, there could be a very strong sign that the bone may be fractured. If there is a sprain, the pain is mild to moderate and swelling is gradual.

The best treatment for a sprain is rest and alternate between cold and heat packs to reduce inflammation.

To learn about other pediatric services through the North Central Baptist Children’s Hospital, call (210) 297-5033 or visit

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