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Young athletes: Cheer them on to safety

Every kid is a winner when it comes to playing sports. Game time can boost a youngster’s social skills and selfconfidence, while providing plenty of healthy exercise that’s also a lot of fun.

But every sport poses at least some risks. As a parent, you can work with coaches and your young athlete to help reduce these risks.

Stay off the injured list. To help your child score in safety, Emily Peterson, DO, FAAP, a pediatrician at Dignity Health Medical Group’s Henderson location, suggests the following:

ASK QUESTIONS. Learn what your child’s sports program is doing to prevent and respond to injuries, such as ensuring conditioning for players and safety training for coaches.

SCHEDULE A PHYSICAL. A preseason exam from a doctor will help confirm that your youngster is healthy enough to play.

GET EQUIPPED. Depending on the sport, a helmet, body padding, mouthguards or shinguards, eye protection, and proper shoes may be needed.

PLAY BY THE RULES. From football to soccer, many sports have rules designed to prevent injuries. Make sure your child knows—and follows—them.

BEAT THE HEAT. Give your child a water bottle—and encourage frequent drinking.

WARM UP. Encourage warm-up exercises before and cooldown exercises after both practices and games.

TAKE CONCUSSIONS SERIOUSLY. In general, players shouldn’t get back in the game until medically evaluated and cleared to play.

ENCOURAGE REST. Athletes need breaks in between seasons and during practices and games.

SPEAK UP. Teach your child to speak up if he or she is sick or hurt. And remember to check with your child’s doctor if you suspect an injury.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; National Institutes of Health; Safe Kids Worldwide

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