Author: Dr. Radha Ram

Originally posted here.

Playing sports is an excellent way for children to stay fit, build teamwork and get outside for some fresh air. But sports-related stress and injuries are the second leading cause of emergency room visits for children and adolescents, so it’s essential to keep your child safe on the playing field.

The eyes and face are particularly vulnerable areas and need to be protected at all times. Likewise, head injuries such as concussions are among the most common sports injuries to be aware of. The risk of such injuries can be minimized if a few safety guidelines are followed.

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Here, we’ll share tips on how you can protect your son or daughter during their next game – and how to know when to seek urgent or specialized medical care.

Protecting your child’s eyes and face

Wearing the proper athletic gear can go a long way to safeguarding your child’s eyes and face. Here are a few items that should be on your shopping list for sports gear.

  • EYE PROTECTION: You may think of swimming when you think of goggles, but protective eyewear is also useful for sports such as racquetball, tennis and even badminton. Goggles are one of the best ways to shield your child’s eyes and reduce the risk of eye injuries. Additionally, sports glasses and face shields are other options for eye protection. The best protective eyewear is a sports frame (not daily-wear glasses) with polycarbonate lenses. If a child needs better vision with glasses, a prescription can be placed in sports glasses, too.
  • MOUTHGUARDS: The American Dental Association recommends mouthguards for more than a dozen sports, ranging from acrobatics and martial arts to ice hockey and soccer. A properly fitted mouthguard can work to protect your child’s teeth and face at the same time.
  • HELMETS: This vital headgear isn’t just for cyclists; children playing an array of popular sports, including baseball and football, also need helmets. The key is to ensure the fit is correct and that your child wears the helmet at all times they’re on the field. A helmet should be snug with the chin strap tightened, so two fingers can fit between the strap and chin. Specifically, doctors recommend helmets with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield.

By taking these safety measures, you can protect your child’s eyes and face while removing the burden of worry from your shoulders.

When to seek urgent care for your child

If your child is injured, how do you know whether the injuries are serious enough to warrant a visit to urgent care? Here are three key questions to consider if your child is injured while playing sports:

1. Is my child having trouble moving?

If your child cannot easily walk or mobilize an injured area, then it’s a good time to go to an urgent care clinic. Difficulty moving could signify a broken or fractured bone, and it’s crucial for a qualified physician to treat the injury and facilitate proper healing.

2. Is my child dehydrated?

Dehydration is not just a sign that your child needs to drink water; it’s an indication of a potentially serious medical situation that requires swift attention. If your child is experiencing nausea, dizziness, muscle cramping or weakness, these could be the symptoms of dehydration. Seek medical attention if any of these signs are present.

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3. Was there an eye, facial or head injury?

While some injuries of this nature may be minor, others may be serious and demand immediate medical care. Concussions, especially, may not always be apparent and when left untreated can have long-term repercussions, such as chronic headaches and fatigue. Vision loss may also result from a concussion, so it’s a smart idea to make an ophthalmologist an integral part of your child’s care team.

Even if you answered “no” to all of the above questions, the basic rule of thumb is to take your child to an urgent care clinic if you suspect something is wrong. Trust your parental instincts and seek expert medical care from a top-ranked doctor.