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Nicklaus Children's Orthopedic Surgery Program

Handling & Preventing Youth Sports Injuries

If your child does get injured, discuss the injury with the game physician, trainer and coach. If appropriate, follow the RICE principle (see Remember RICE below) until further evaluation or intervention is initiated.

How can you tell if your child is hurt?

Look for swelling, limping or restricted use of the injured limb - these symptoms accompany most youth sports injuries in the first few days. Serious injuries are usually evident right away.

Remember RICE

Following RICE, particularly for common sports injuries such as strains and bruises can alleviate pain, swelling and inflammation and aid in healing. Teach your child the importance of caring for an injury right away and how to do it the RICE way. Always remember, however, to have any injury evaluated if it's more than a bruise or a cut.
  • REST - Stop playing and rest the injured area. This is a good time to have the coach or team physician examine the injury.
  • ICE - Apply a cold pack or bag of ice for 20 minutes each hour. As the swelling goes down, you can gradually stop. (At home, a bag of frozen veggies works well.)
  • COMPRESSION - Lightly wrap the injured area with an elastic support band. Be sure to remove it frequently. The pressure from the bandage will help to reduce swelling and protect the area by keeping it still.
  • ELEVATION - Elevate or prop up the injured area to reduce swelling and relieve throbbing pains.

Common Sports Injuries

A sport-by-sport breakdown of common youth sports injuries:
Sports Injury tips, Practicing Prevention steps you and your children can take for safety's sake- Child athelete with parent.


Common injuries: fractures,
 sprains, strains and bruises (in knees and ankles); ACL injuries (especially in girls); rotator cuff strains and tears; and dental injuries


Common injuries: fractures, bruises and soft tissue strains


Common injuries: headaches, bruises and cuts


Common injuries: strains and sprains


Common injuries: bruises, strains, sprains, and broken bones (in knees and ankles); pulled muscles; muscle tears; ligament (ACL) tears in the knee; bruised internal organs; and back injuries

Practicing Prevention

Of course, preventing common sports injuries is even better. There are several steps you and your children can take for safety's sake. For starters, wear sport-specific protective gear. If your son plays football, for example, he'll need a helmet, mouth guard, protective cup, proper footwear and other body pads.

Another key element to prevent common sports injuries is to always warm up before practice or a game. Be sure your child's coach includes slow stretching to lengthen players' muscles and increase blood flow. To prevent dehydration from the South Florida heat, children also need to take frequent drink breaks (every 15-20 minutes in the hottest months of the year).

Source: The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases


Sports Medicine at Nicklaus Children's Hospital

Dr. Craig Spurdle and Dr. Stephen Swirsky explain new surgical techniques and the prevention of sports injuries in children.

For more information about The Orthopedic Surgery Program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital or to make an appointment, please call

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