Pee-Wee Football and Safety
Greg M. Hrasky, MD, is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon for Cardon Children's Medical Center.
Question: I recently signed up my son for his first year of pee-wee football. What precautionary measures should I take to ensure his safety on the field without being an overbearing mother?
Answer: All sports and recreational opportunities for children contain the risk of injury alongside the tremendous benefits of physical fitness, positive peer interaction, and emotional and mental challenges.
Make sure you get to know the coaches, and ensure they are committed to providing all the benefits of sports. They should also be committed to safety in training and equipment. There should always be someone present at practice and games who knows CPR and proper first aid.
Football can often cause overuse and pressure stress to the knees, elbows and ankles. In the weeks leading up to the start of the practice season, encourage your children to start a slow build up in running, and stretch their quadriceps to tune up the knees.
Strains or sprains usually bounce back quickly in grade-school athletes. Any pain, deformity or diminished use of limbs, beyond ice and rest for a day, should be attended to by a physician. Your pediatrician, family doctor or urgent care practitioner are good starting points; they may then decide to send you for further care to a specialist who focuses on kids' bone and joint injuries. Profound pain, lack of limb function or ability to bear weight on the legs from a field injury should be directed to an Emergency Room.
Remember, drinking plenty of fluids before practice and games – especially in warmer weather – is crucial, in addition to maintaining a healthy and adequate diet.
It is normal to be a concerned parent, but consider the benefits of your child playing a sport. He or she will be more active, which helps children sleep, concentrate in school and become a more healthy child and adult. Being on an athletic team also should help your child learn about teamwork, sportsmanship and discipline.