Watching your kid play sports can be a thrilling experience for any parent. Watching them get injured can be a nightmare. Any health plan you choose will require that your children receive all age appropriate checkups at no charge. Have a high deductible health plan? No problem. You still get the check up. As the weather is warming up so are millions of young athletes getting back onto sports fields. A major athletics association has renewed this warning: Some school-age competitors, who are inadequately prepared, or improperly coached, continue to develop serious overuse injuries.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association offers Sports Safety Tips to Keep Athletes in the Game.

1. Make sure the athlete is physically and mentally in the game. Parents, with assistance from coaches, should determine whether their children are physically and psychologically conditioned for the sport/activity level they’re playing.

2. Get a pre-participation exam.

3. In case of injury, find out who will provide care and review their credentials.

4. Acclimatize athletes to warm weather activities over a 14-day period.

5. Be certain that your athlete is encouraged to speak up if hit in the head and suffering from any related symptoms including dizziness, loss of memory, light headiness, fatigue or imbalance to name a few.

6. Ensure that automated external defibrillators (AED), if available, are on site during competitions.

7. Complete an emergency medical authorization form, providing parent contact information and permission for emergency medical care.

8. Ensure equipment is in working order.

9. Ascertain coaches’ qualifications.

10. Check that locker rooms, gyms and shower surfaces are clean.

11. Sickle cell trait: be aware of warning signs including fatigue or shortness of breath that may indicate an athlete is in danger.

12. Ask if the school/league has an emergency action plan: Every team should have a written emergency action plan.

13. Build in recovery time: Allow time for the body to rest and rejuvenate in between seasons.

14. Pay attention to sport specific injury prevention.

Children, especially younger ones have such a good time playing that they may not notice or want to stop playing if they are injured. Some of the symptoms of an overuse injury include:

  • A gradual onset of pain, or pain presenting as an ache.
  • No history of direct injury.
  • Stiffness or aching after or during training or competition.
  • Increasing periods of time for pain to resolve.
  • Point tenderness, visible swelling and missed training sessions as a result of pain or injury.

Most insurance carriers now charge a facility fee if you go to an emergency room for treatment and are not admitted or have surgery. A better option (if the injury does not appear to be serious) is to go to an urgent care facility. Check to see if your health plan offers you a copayment if you do choose to go to one of those urgent facilities. Have a great season!