Herald Journal Columns
June 19, 2006, Herald Journal

Summer activity safety tips


Summer vacation brings along with it, many things for families and children to do, including engaging in a variety of sporting and physical activities. From organized sports of baseball, softball, t-ball, soccer, track and field, and golf, for example, to less organized backyard fun, such as skateboarding, a pick-up game of basketball, kickball, hop-scotch and other fun yard, court, and field games – many children will be actively involved in some type of physical play this summer.

Whether playing sports on a team, or in the backyard – it builds lifelong exercise habits in kids, but any activity can cause injuries. Daphne Sashin noted in a “Parents” magazine article, “First Aid for Sports Injuries.” The article further noted, that you can prevent many accidents by arming your child with proper equipment.

I also happened to be watching the “NBC,” Sunday morning news show segment recently, that was highlighting a New York doctor, who specializes in sports medicine – discussed youth baseball and softball injuries, and recommended injury prevention activities.

Here’s how to prepare, and what to do, (according to the above mentioned sources):

• What if your child jams his finger during a basketball game and can’t bend it?

If the finger looks dislocated or crooked, take your child to a doctor. Otherwise, treat it with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). If he still has pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the injured finger after 24 hours, take him to your doctor.

• What do you do if your child jumps from the balance beam and twists her/his ankle?

If the child can’t walk, she/he will need to get x-rays to rule out a fracture. Otherwise, ice the ankle and wrap it snugly in an elastic bandage to prevent swelling.

• What do you do if at the morning after baseball practice, your son’s (or daughter’s) elbow hurts and the child has trouble bending his/her arm?

The article notes that this could be a soft-tissue strain caused by repeated throwing, sometimes called “Little League elbow.” Your doctor should examine him. Your child may need to do exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles in his arms.

In fact, the sports medicine doctor recommended pitching suggestions to help prevent this injury. Kids ages 9-10, should only be allowed to pitch a maximum of 50 pitches per game

a day, and kids ages 11-14, should only pitch a maximum of 75 pitches per game a day. The doctor also noted, that kids these ages should only pitch certain pitches. Not following such guidelines can injure a child’s growth plates in the elbow and can also cause permanent injury.

• Remember, your child must wear a helmet for football, bike or scooter riding, skateboarding, hockey, lacrosse, in-line skating, baseball and softball (when batting), the article noted.

• Hockey, football, and lacrosse players must wear mouth guards to protect their teeth, cheeks, tongue, and jaw.

• Wrist guards, knee and elbow pads are essential for skating, riding scooters and playing hockey.

• Shin guards should be worn during soccer to prevent bruises.

• Equip your son with a groin cup for football, baseball, or hockey.

• The article also noted that baseball leagues should also use balls made out of polyurethane foam and batting helmets with shatterproof face guards. The doctor noted, that the little leagues have now gone to the softer balls, with some “give” to help prevent injuries.

• A study revealed, that batting helmets with face guards made a significant decrease in face injuries.

Remember the “Rice” formula for all your bruises, strains and sprains. Rest the area for 48 hours; Ice the area for 20 minutes every two or three hours; Compression – wrap the injured area with elastic wrap for two days – consult a doctor first; Elevation – keep the limb above the heart, resting on a pillow.

Sources: Bernard A. Griesemer, M.D., Health Tracks Sports Training Center in Springfield, Missouri; Thomas J. Martin, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on sports medicine; National Safe Kids Campaign.

Remember that your child should have the proper safety equipment, water for hydration, and warm-ups /cool downs, when participating in sport activities. Children should also be alert to what is going on around them, whether it be during a game or practice. Injuries can and do occur when children are not observing and paying attention to their environment.

Keep on reading this summer

More kids’ top book picks (tabulated from an online survey that ran on the website, www.nea.org/readacross):

11. “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis

12. “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” (series) by Judy Blume

13. “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” by Louis Sachar

14. “The BFG” by Roald Dahl

15. “The Boxcar Children” (series) by Gertrude Chandler Warner

16. “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss

17. “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” (series) by Beverly Cleary

Teachers’ top book picks

11 “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown (baby-preschool)

12. “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen (9-12 years)

13. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis (9-12 years)

14. “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” the Poems and Drawings by Shel Silverstein (all ages)

15. “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson (9-12 years)

16. “Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon (4-8 years)

17. “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)

Jenni Sebora has a bachelor of science degree in special education, and a master of science degree in education, with a coaching certification. She has taught in the public school system for 14 years, and has coached a variety of sports at all levels.

Jenni was a children’s program leader for Family Support Network/Parents’ Anonymous, for a local chapter, for 10 years and was the children’s program resource coordinator for the Minnesota Family Support Network/Prevent Child Abuse organization, for southern Minnesota chapters. She has conducted many trainings on dealing with children, children’s activities, and behavioral management.

Jenni has worked in day care settings, served as a Sunday school teacher, summer recreation director, and on the board of education at her church.

She and her husband, Marc, have three children.