Autumn is coming. That means changing leaves, cooler temperatures, and for many of us, football season. But football can be a dangerous sport, and injuries are common. If your kids are on the team this year, here are some of the common injuries they could encounter, as well as our recommendation for at-home treatment.
You’ve probably seen the headlines. Concussion rates among youth football players have reached epidemic levels. In fact, it’s estimated that 75 percent of players will suffer at least one concussion in any given season. And since we are now aware that these injuries can have lasting repercussions, it’s important that we take them very seriously.
You may not realize that a concussion doesn’t always mean a loss of consciousness. They can occur from even a mild blow to the head or violent shaking of the head and body, such as what commonly occurs when a player is tackled. If your player complains of headache, confusion, lack of coordination, memory loss, nausea, ringing in the ears, or sleepiness, it’s probably time to have them checked out by a medical professional.
Dehydration and Heatstroke
While it’s not technically an injury, dehydration and heatstroke can be major concerns for players in hot climates.
Dehydration levels of just 1-2 percent of body weight can begin to compromise your body’s functions. Dehydration has become an epidemic for athletes of all sorts. It’s estimated that up to 75 percent of young athletes are already dehydrated when practice starts. Then they begin to sweat, losing even more of that precious water from their systems. If the problem is not dealt with adequately, it can lead to a number of complications, up to and including death.
Heatstroke is another common risk for athletes in the summer months. Many assume this only happens when temperatures soar into the 100°F range, but any combination of ambient temperature above 80°F and relative humidity above 40 percent. And it can be a serious medical emergency. The Gatorade Sports Science Institute reports that we’ve lost an average of three players per year to this condition since 1995.
About a quarter of all serious football injuries are fractures. Metatarsal bones, any of the five bones in the foot which stretch from the ankle to the toes, are the most commonly fractured bones for football players. Other common fractures occur in the fingers, ankles and wrists.
Fractures are particularly common early in the season, as athletes may not have kept up with their conditioning during the offseason. For this reason, it’s important for student-athletes to continue their workouts throughout the year, rather than just during the season for their chosen sport.
Another common injury for football players is knee sprains, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains. Knee sprains are often caused by sudden twisting movements, sudden stopping, or a blow to the knee.
While the most serious sprains such as grade 3 ACL tears will require surgery, many lesser sprains can be treated at home. If you suspect a knee sprain, it’s best to have it evaluated by a professional to determine the severity of the injury and the correct course of action.
The cartilage separating your thigh and shin bones is called the meniscus. In contact sports such as football and hockey, meniscus tears are common. Most often, when this type of tear occurs, players report feeling a pop in the joint.
While a severe meniscus tear needs surgery to properly heal, minor tears often can be treated at home. If you suspect this type of injury, elevate and ice the knee, and then call in the experts to evaluate the extent of the damage.
In almost any sport, muscle strains are common in the back and hamstrings. In football, strains of the legs, ankles, and elbows are also often reported. Muscle strains can occur when you overstretch or overuse a muscle. Repetitive stress strains can also occur from repeating the same motion over and over, as is common in practice drills.
To help prevent strains, players should be sure to always warm up their muscles properly before practice or a game. Regular stretching or strengthening exercises can also help to reduce the risk. If a strain does occur, rest and ice can often alleviate the symptoms. More severe strains should be examined by a medical professional, especially if tingling or numbness are present.
Get Treatment at Home
You might be surprised to find out that many of these injuries may not require a trip to your local hospital. Instead of heading to the ER, why not relax at home and get medical care delivered? The team from DispatchHealth can help with most of these injuries, including sprains and strains and even dehydration concerns, all from the comfort of your home, or even in the locker room or on the practice field.
The qualified medical teams from DispatchHealth can treat nearly everything an emergency room can. They are equipped and experienced in treating joint or back pain, sprains and strains, severe dehydration and all sorts of other ailments and injuries.
Not sure if they can handle what’s ailing your athlete? Just give them a quick call and they can assess the situation over the phone, then let you know if you should head to the hospital or stay where you are.
Concerned about costs? DispatchHealth accepts nearly all major insurance plans, so a visit will usually only cost the same as a trip to your local urgent care clinic. So the next time you’re dealing with a football injury, or some other injury or illness, be sure to give DispatchHealth a call and get medical care delivered to your home!