KATY (September 23, 2016)

Fall sports are kicking into high gear, and that means physicians may be seeing more sports-related injuries.

“Because children’s bodies are still growing and changing, we often see different types of sports-related injuries in kids than in adults,” says Andy Shen, MD, a family medicine and sports medicine physician affiliated with Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, the most common sports injuries among children are sprains and strains, repetitive motion injuries, growth plate injuries, and heat-related injuries.

There are things parents can do to help prevent these injuries. Dr. Shen offers these tips:

  • Make sure your child has access to water or a sports drink during practices or games: Just because it is September doesn’t mean we’re seeing a break in the heat, and dehydration can happen quickly. Most organizations provide water or sports drinks for athletes, but it doesn’t hurt to pack extra water. Also, encourage them to drink more water once they get home.
  • Make warm-ups and cool-downs a requirement: Young athletes often want to rush through the warm-up or cool-down period. These are vital to preventing injury. Warm-ups should last at least 10 minutes before the actual game begins. Cool-downs are based on the intensity of the activity and should be a gradual decrease in activity.
  • Make rest a priority: Overuse injuries can be subtle, but include things like tendonitis, shin splints, or pitching elbow. Make sure athletes take off at least one or two days each week from any particular sport. Overuse injuries are especially common with those who participate in two sports that utilize similar muscles, like swimming and baseball.

“I also educate parents of young athletes about the signs and symptoms of concussion. People often think of concussion in connection to football, but concussion often happen in soccer, wrestling, and lacrosse as well,” said Dr. Shen.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concussion symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, feeling sluggish or foggy, confusion, or being bothered by light or noise.

“Even a mild bump can be serious. When in doubt, sit them out,” says Dr. Shen.

Dr. Shen specializes in family and sports medicine with an emphasis on fostering healthy living as a way of preventing chronic disease. He also serves the Katy community by volunteering as a team physician for middle and high schools in the Katy Independent School District.