Winter Sports Injuries
Winter sports can be tons of fun for you and your children! There are many to choose from including skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, sledding, ice skating, and ice hockey. We encourage outside play all year long, but remember with any sport, there is risk for fall and injury. In fact, studies show that each year 2-3% of five-to-seven year olds, and 5-10% of nine-and-ten year olds will sustain injuries that require more than a few days of rest to recover (AAP, 2003). Some of these injuries may include a fracture, sprain, strain, or bruise. So, what do you do when you think your child has sustained one of these injuries? Read the descriptions below for some helpful tips!
Helpful Tips (Schmitt, 2012)
A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament (a band of tissue that connects one bone to another). They are typically caused by a twisting motion and often involve the knee or ankle. Your healthcare provider should check most of these injuries. Immediately after the injury, the joint should be wrapped in an elastic bandage and treated with the R.I.C.E. technique (Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate) for the first 24-48 hours. Ice should be applied for 20 minutes every 4 hours. This will help reduce the swelling and pain to the area. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be given for pain management.
A strain is a tear or pull of a muscle or tendon (tissue that connects muscle to bone). They are usually caused by over-extension and most of these injuries can be safely cared for at home. Ice should be applied to the area for 20 minutes 3-4 times on the first day. If stiffness continues beyond 48 hours, then heat should be applied for 10 minutes a few times a day until it improves. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be used for pain. Remember to reinforce good stretching prior to exercise and gradual return to play!
A fracture is a break or crack in the bone and needs to be treated by a clinician. Stabilizing the area is critical until a medical professional sees your child. If a shoulder or arm fracture is suspected, use a sling made of cloth to keep the area stable. If the leg is injured then a board should be used to hold it still. Your child should not bear weight on the injured leg.
A bruise may occur to the muscle or bone. After the injury, blood gets trapped under the skin forming a purplish mark that may be tender. A bone bruise typically occurs when there is a direct blow to an area such as a knee, elbow, or hip. Apply ice to the area for 20 minutes 3-4 times on the first day. If pain persists beyond 48 hours, switch to heat for 10 minutes a few times a day until it improves. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be used for pain. Pain typically improves after 48 hours but discomfort may persist for up to 2 weeks.
More Reminders for Winter Safety! (AAP, 2013)â€¨
1. Even though it’s not summer, remember sunscreen! The sun reflects off the snow and ice, so you can still get sunburn. Use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 that is made for children, and apply it to your children’s skin 15-30 minutes prior to heading outdoors.
2. Think layers and moisture-wicking fabric, when bundling up for trips outside. Younger children do not regulate their body temperature as well as adults. Therefore, they are at greater risk for hypothermia or frostbite. In addition, a good rule of thumb is to dress your infant in one more layer of clothing than you wear.
3. Please be careful with long scarves, strings, and cords from jackets. Strangulation is a real possibility, as the loose ends may get caught in sled blades or around slides in the playground. Hoods on a sweatshirt can also block peripheral view for young children who are not paying attention to their surroundings.
4. Avoid reckless play when outside. Always wear your helmet when snowboarding, skiing, sledding, or playing ice hockey. Other protective wear (appropriate for particular sports) includes mouth guards, padding, eye-gear, face guard, and a protective cup. Make sure that the hills you sled down don’t end with a pond that is not frozen solid or onto a street with motor vehicles. Children should never ski, snowboard, sled ride, or ice skate alone. â€¨
5. If your child gets winter nosebleeds, consider using a cool air humidifier in his/her bedroom. Also, saline drops and petroleum jelly may be helpful to keep the nasal tissue moist.
6. Remember, loose blankets, quilts, and pillows should be kept out of the infant’s crib, as this can lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). One-piece sleepers are a good alternative option. If a blanket must be used, it should be tucked in around the crib mattress and reach no higher than the baby’s chest, so the face is less likely to become covered.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). (2013, December). Chillin’ with winter safety. Retrieved from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Chillin-With-Winter-Safety.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). (2003). Sports injury prevention. Retrieved from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/sports-injuries/Pages/Sports-Injury-Prevention.aspx
Schmitt, B.D. (2012, May 15). Bone, muscle, or joint injury. Retrieved from http://www.childrenshealthnetwork.org/CRS/CRS/pa_bonetrau_hhg.htm