this woman got in a bicycle accident

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October 7, 2010

As crisp, sunny fall weather approaches activities like flag football, bike rides, and various other sporting activities will become even more popular. But part of enjoying these activities means being cautious and taking care of your physical health.

More sports-related non-fatal injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments than any other type of unintentional injury, and sports injuries make up nearly 16 percent of all non-fatal unintentional injuries, across all ages and genders, according to The Injury Prevention Research Center. And data from Children's Hosptial shows, "Sports and recreational activities contribute to approximately 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents."

Although you can never fully protect yourself from every injury, Sports Medicine research suggests "injury rates could be reduced by 25 percent if athletes took appropriate preventative action." Here are some tips for preventing sports-related injuries:

  1. Be in proper physical shape for your sport - weekend warriors are more likely to get injured than someone who conditions themselves regularly for the sport.
  2. Follow the rules of the sport.
  3. Wear appropriate gear and equipment: helmets, padding, cleats, baseball pants, etc ...
  4. Rest in between sessions - listen to your body and step out if you are feeling uncomfortable or dizzy, get at least 8 hours of sleep each night to allow for your muscles and tendons to recover and strengthen.
  5. Always warm up before you play - whether you like jumping jacks, stretches, or jump-rope, get your muscles warm because this will allow for your muscles to have a wider range of motion and not be as tense and prone to strain and injury.
  6. Do not play when tired or in pain - again listen to your body, pain indicates a problem so pay attention to your bodies warning signs.

Of course, fall also means a new athletic season for high school students. Parents should be aware that, "For all high school sports that boys participate in, the frequency of injury is 27 to 39 percent on an annual basis," according to MassGeneral.org.

Football accounts for the most injuries in boys, while soccer accounts for most injuries in girls. Other sports that contribute to injuries for boys and girls include gymnastics, basketball, baseball, softball, track and field and cross-country."

For girls, cheerleading is the most dangerous high school and college sport.

Cheerleading accounts for 65.1 percent of all catastrophic sports injuries for high school in the last 25 years.

Adolescents are at a proportionately higher risk than adults or young children because during the growth spurt, the skeleton must work to support the extra body weight. This and the fact that the opponents are also growing increases the risk to injury. Adolescents are still learning the limits and power of their adult bodies.

"It is well known that the number of football injuries increase for teenagers as they grow in height and weight. During growth and development, agility, power, speed and motor coordination improve. Girls by age fourteen years seem to stabilize in regard to motor performance while boys improve during the later teenage years," according to MassGeneral.org. But adults and teens alike can be aware of these sports injury warning signs. Acute pains are often obvious but the chronic pains could cause significant or life-changing damage in the long term if ignored. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to seek treatment quickly:
    Joint pain - particularly knees, ankle, elbows and wrists.
  • Pain at a specific point in a muscle or bone - especially if the pain is not on the other side of your body.
  • Swelling - usually hand in hand with pain, redness and heat and often accompanies any injury.
  • Reduced range of motion - compare sides of your body to see if they are equal if not take a rest.
  • Comparative weakness - may be useful in assessing an injury, again compare sides of the body.
  • Numbness and tingling - may indicate nerve compression see a physician.
  • For acute injuries reduce swelling with the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Do not apply heat to an acute injury. Heat will increase circulation and increase swelling.

    The most commonly misdiagnosed or overlooked sports injuries include:
    • Concussions: If ignored, a concussion could lead to a slow brain bleed, repeated concussions can cause memory loss and other brain functioning problems.
    • Achilles tendon rupture: Because a complete rupture of this tendon which connects the foot to the calf often causes little pain, it is often misdiagnosed as a calf sprain.
    • ACL knee injuries are often misdiagnosed as a sprain as well.
    • Scaphoid fractures of the wrist, which occurs when falling on an outstretched hand, is often misdiagnosed as a sprain.
    • Stress fractures: Stress fractures have a vague point of pain which could be overlooked and make it hard to diagnose.

    Be sure to pay attention to how your body feels before and after participating in sports and physical activities. To learn more about caring for you Bones, Joint, and Muscles, visit our Musculoskeletal Support Center.
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