Child Sports Injury Lawyers

You are fortunate if your child is active in sports and recreation. It is good for their physical and mental health, and the lessons of teamwork and sportsmanship have lifelong value. But there is a risk of injury.

Of about 30 million children and teens in the U.S. who participate in some form of organized sports, some 3.5 million who are age 14 or younger get hurt each year, according to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 2.6 million children up to age 19 require emergency room treatment every year because of sports- and recreation-related injuries.

Why Children Suffer Sports-Related Injuries

Many times the type of activity a child is involved in is the main cause of their injury. It is understood that playing contact sports, like football and soccer, may lead to bruises and more serious impact injuries, like concussions and broken bones.

But in recent years, the trend for children to play organized competitive sports at a younger age and to specialize in a single sport has led to an increase in what are called overuse injuries. These include sprains – injury to a ligament, the fibrous tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint; and strains – an injury to either a muscle or a tendon.

Stress fractures (a hairline fracture of the bone caused by repeated stress) and tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon) can also occur from overuse of muscles and tendons.

Children are also particularly susceptible to overuse or repetitive motion injuries because they are still growing. A child can easily injure undeveloped sections of the musculoskeletal system known as growth plates. A growth plate is developing tissue at the end of the long bones in children and adolescents, including bones in the forearm (radius and ulna), upper leg (femur), and lower leg. During adolescence, growth plate tissue becomes solid bone.

Another important consideration for active children is heat-related illness. Children perspire less than adults and require a higher core body temperature to trigger sweating. Therefore, it is important to closely monitor children who are playing in hot weather to ensure they remain hydrated.

Heat injuries, which are always dangerous and can be fatal, include.

  • Dehydration (deficit in body fluids)
  • Heat exhaustion (nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, heavy perspiration, normal or low body temperature, weak pulse, dilated pupils, disorientation and fainting)
  • Heat stroke (headache, dizziness, confusion, and hot dry skin, possibly leading to vascular collapse, coma and death).

Preventing and Treating Child Sports Injuries

Adults who supervise children in organized sports or other kinds of recreational play have a responsibility for these young people’s safety. They should ensure that child athletes are instructed and conditioned for safe play, are equipped with protective gear, and are warmed up before rigorous practice or play begins. Adequate water or other liquids should be available for children to maintain proper hydration. Coaches, trainers and other instructors and supervisors should monitor children and remove them from play if they see signs of injury or fatigue or as weather conditions warrant.

Coaches should have some sports medicine training to enable them to deal with minor injuries. If a serious sports injury in children occurs, medical personnel should be summoned quickly.

For immediate care of a soft tissue injury (such as a sprain or strain) or a bone injury, many medical texts recommend what’s known as the RICE treatment:

  • Rest. Stop using or putting weight on the injured arm, leg, hip, etc.
  • Ice. Apply ice or a cold pack wrapped in a thin towel to the injury for 15 to 20 minutes to prevent or minimize swelling. Reapply ice three times a day or until swelling subsides. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat.
  • Compression. Wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap) to decrease swelling. Wrap it snugly but not too tightly. A child should not sleep with the wrap on. Loosen the wrap if the child experiences numbness, discoloration or coolness in the wrapped area, which are signs of constricted circulation.
  • Elevation. Elevate the injured or sore area above the level of the injured child’s heart to help minimize swelling.

If pain or swelling from a strain or sprain does not decrease after 48 hours, the injured player should see a doctor.

Contact a Child Sports Injury Attorney

Hardison & Cochran can investigate the circumstances of your child’s sports- or recreation-related injury and advise you of the legal options available to you. You may be able to hold supervising adults liable for medical expenses and other losses if their negligence allowed a serious child sports injury to occur. Contact us today from anywhere in North Carolina to learn more about how we can help you.

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