May is physical fitness month, and with kids headed out of the classroom and out to the park or pool, injuries can increase during the summer months.
Dr. Dan Maurer and Dr. Troy Diehl, both doctors of osteopathic medicine on the medical staff at Centennial Medical Center in Frisco, provide tips for parents to keep their children safe this season.
Q: Do injuries occur more during the summer when children are out of school?
DM: When the weather is nicer people tend to want to be outdoors, and with that comes an increased risk for more injuries resulting from outdoor activities. Children have lots of energy, and they typically spend more time outside when they don’t have to be in school.
TD: Yes, there are slight increases. Children are a little more active, and I think it’s a circumstance of the nicer weather. They will be spending more time outdoors, possibly at the playground or in the backyard.
Q: What are the most common injuries you see in children during the summer?
DM: We see an increase in fractures, or broken bones. It is very important for kids to wear wrist guards, elbow pads and helmets for some activities. While this equipment won’t guarantee that there won’t be a fracture resulting from a fall, it will help prevent injuries. We also see lots of cramps. They aren’t major, but kids need to stay well-hydrated. They’re outside a lot, and they need something to stay hydrated whether they are drinking water or a sports drink with electrolytes. Kids can get muscle pain or cramps, and it’s usually just a hydration issue.
TD: There’s an increase of simple sprains, and a slight increase in wrist and ankle fractures. Soccer is a common one that causes ankle sprains.
Q: Although helmets are very important for safety, children sometimes dislike wearing them. Any tips?
DM: Just be honest with them. If kids understand the reasons for having to wear helmets, they might be more inclined to wear them. There is peer pressure to not wear helmets, but having an open conversation with your children can help. In fact, many helmet manufacturers are trying to make them more appealing to kids with neat designs in addition to making them more comfortable and lightweight.
TD: You might frame it in a way that lets them know that if they do have an accident without a helmet, they might not be able to ride a bike for a long time. I know it’s hard to convey to kids, but in some instances, not wearing a helmet could impact the rest of their lives.
Q: Are there any activities that are extremely high risk that parents should not allow?
DM: There isn’t anything I would say that is off-limits; that wouldn’t be fun. Some of the more rigorous activities like jumping on trampolines or bounce houses are a lot of fun, and most times no one gets hurt. However, it is important to take precautions, whether that is adult supervision or wearing helmets. Keep in mind, kids might be less brave if mom or dad is around.
TD: Football is always popular in Texas, but keep in mind that it can be dangerous at any age. Younger children haven’t developed the techniques needed in tackle football to protect themselves at that young age.
Q: What should parents look for when choosing a summer camp?
DM: Make sure there is proper hydration if they’ll be outside. Tell your kids it is okay to take a break. Simple first aid should be on hand and a plan should be in place if further medical care is needed. Also, talk to local parents who might have had an experience with the camp. It’s good to hear about the reputation a camp might have.
TD: Check that there is always some sort of first aid, be it someone with CPR certification, an athletic trainer or a registered nurse. Keep a close eye on insect bites as well if kids are outside; you may not know your child is allergic. Also, Texas summers are always hot. Be sure your kids get more water than soda or juice.
Q: What are you tips for staying safe around the pool?
DM: Be smart. Even if it’s a fun environment, like swimming, you need to remind your kids of the rules. Know where safety equipment is. Lifeguards are important, but accidents can still happen. The pool is a fun place, but it can be a place for a lot of injuries. Make your children more aware of the rules with a direct message to them about the rules they must follow.
TD: No diving. Explain to kids that the water might be deep, and there are always unknown circumstances. You should always recommend going in feet-first. Protect the pool for infants if you have them. Be sure there is an infant-proof gate or barrier. We all try to be very careful, but accidents happen. Dr. Diehl and Dr. Maurer emphasize that preventing injuries is the first step to keeping your family safe and out of their office this summer. They said you should be proactive about telling your children the best ways to prevent injuries and making rules for them to follow.