Simple tips help keep kids safe

Spring has finally arrived in western Washington and that means more time spent outdoors. Dr. Jason Brayley, a sports medicine physician with MultiCare Health System, wants to help parents prevent injuries to their children with a few simple precautions.

Spring has finally arrived in western Washington and that means more time spent outdoors. Dr. Jason Brayley, a sports medicine physician with MultiCare Health System, wants to help parents prevent injuries to their children with a few simple precautions.

Make sure your child uses the proper protective sports gear, such as mouth guards or eye protection for a particular sport.

Warm up before exercise. This can help minimize the chance of muscle strain or other soft tissue injury during activity. Warm up exercises make the body’s tissues more flexible.

Wear sunscreen and a hat (where possible) to reduce the chance of sunburn, which is actually an injury to the skin.

Stay properly hydrated while playing.

Know the warning signs of a serious injury (see below)

Treat Injuries with RICE.

• Rest. Reduce or stop using the injured area for 48 hours. If you have a leg injury, you may need to stay off of it completely.

• Ice. Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times per day. Use a cold pack, ice bag or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice that has been wrapped in a towel.

• Compression. Compression of an injured ankle, knee or wrist may help reduce the swelling. These include bandages such as elastic wraps, special boots, air casts and splints. Ask your doctor which one is best.

• Elevation. Keep the injured area elevated above the level of the heart. Use a pillow to help elevate an injured limb.

Injuries are common while playing sports. Below are some common childhood sports injuries.

Sprains and Strains: these injuries are very common in active children and adolescents. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, a tough and fibrous connection between two bones. Sprain injuries typically involve stretching or tearing of the ligament. A strain is an injury that occurs to a tendon, another type of connective tissue that connects muscle to bone. Sprains and strains are best treated with rest, icing, compression and elevation of the effected area. While these injuries are typically minor and resolve quickly without seeking medical attention, there are several key factors that should be kept in mind when deciding if your child needs to see a physician. If your child experiences any of the following, see a physician as soon as possible: severe pain, inability to move or put weight on the injured area; you cannot touch the injured area without severe pain; any lumps or bumps that look different than the uninjured side; buckling occurs when attempting to use an injured joint; numbness around the injured area; red color surrounding or streaking from the injured joint or foot; multiple injuries to the same area or joint.

Growth Plate Injuries

All growing bones have an area called the physes or “growth plate,” where special cells cause lengthening of bone in children and adolescents. These areas are very susceptible to injury and can often mimic a simple sprain or strain. If a suspected sprain or strain is not improving within 48 hours, it could potentially be a more serious growth plate injury. All injuries to the growth plate may cause a problem with bone growth, therefore it is important to have these injuries identified and treated early. The specific amount of injury to a growth plate can be determined with a basic X-ray. Most growth plate injuries that do not require surgery and do well with immobilization of the area and appropriate time off before returning to active play. Girls may continue to grow late into their teens and boys through the early 20s, so it is always important to keep these potentially serious injuries in mind if your child is hurt while playing.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Active children can be at risk for repetitive motion or “overuse injuries,” the same as adults. All major joints of the body are at risk for developing repetitive motion injuries, although in children the shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles are most at risk. Overuse injuries may occur if your child participates in a specific sport or activity on a very regular basis. Pain will typically develop slowly over time, often getting to the point where playing is no longer possible. It is very important that children in organized sports learn proper techniques related to their sport in order to protect their growing bodies and avoid injuries that may prevent them from having fun and living a healthy lifestyle.

Heat Injuries

Heat tolerance is much lower in children than adults. Children have a reduced sweating capacity and greater body surface area to weight ratio as compared to adults, which places children at a much higher risk of overheating when exercising and playing vigorously. When children become dehydrated, their core body temperature rises significantly faster than an adult, leading to potentially deadly consequences within 20 minutes if overheating develops and is not recognized. Symptoms such as muscle cramps, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, headache, poor coordination, confusion and irritability may be signs that your child is suffering a heat-related illness. If there is any suspicion that this may be an issue for your child, evaluation at an emergency department is the best plan.

Follow these tips for exercising safely in hot weather: respond quickly if heat-related injuries occur; schedule regular fluid breaks during practice and games; drinking water is the best choice, other suitable liquids include fruit juices and sports drinks; kids need to drink 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes while playing an active sport, plus more after playing; wear light-colored, “breathable” clothing and wide-brimmed hats; and use misting water sprays on the body to keep cool.

Now that good weather is right around the corner, I hope you and your children enjoy a safe season.

Dr. Jason D. Brayley practices at MultiCare Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Puyallup. He attended professional school at Loma Linda University, completed his internship and residency at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and his fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He is a member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Association of Cycling Team Doctors and the American Board of Family Medicine.

To contact Dr. Brayley, visit

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Life

The River Trail at the Mud Mountain Dam Recreation Area provides a walk that offers occasional looks at the White River. The entry off the Rim Trail is well-marked and, of course, warning signs are necessary.
Mud Mountain trails offer a quick, and not too challenging, getaway

Looking for trails? The Mud Mountain Dam recreation area has three within easy access.

PHOTOS BY KEVIN HANSON Every Tuesday at 11 a.m., Aubree Axelson can be found at Enumclaw’s Flensted Park, reading stories to kids and their parents. It’s a volunteer effort by Axelson, who spends most of the year in front of youngsters while serving as a kindergarten teacher at Elk Ridge Elementary in Buckley. The Tuesday events are a drop-in affair, no cost and no need to register.
At a glance | July 2021 events

The Courier-Herald is excited to bring back our monthly “At A Glance”… Continue reading

Rajiv Nagaich is an elder law attorney, author, adjunct law school professor, and retirement planning visionary who has achieved national recognition for his cutting-edge work with retirees and his contributions to the practice of elder law. He is the founder of two firms based in Federal Way: Life Point Law, an elder law and estate planning firm, and AgingOptions, a firm that provides retirement-related education to consumers and professionals.
You probably won’t die in your sleep | Senior Lifestyles

Traditional estate planning is based on notions that are out of sync… Continue reading

2021 Lexus IS350 AWD F-Sport
Car review: 2021 Lexus IS350 AWD F-Sport

By Larry Lark, contributor When it comes to manufacturing compact luxury sports… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S
Car review: 2021 Mercedes AMG E63 S sedan

By Larry Lark, contributor The latest incarnation of the Mercedes AMG E63… Continue reading

2021 Mazda3 Premium Plus
Car review: 2021 Mazda3 Premium Plus

By Larry Lark, contributor The Mazda3 has always looked the part of… Continue reading

2021 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 Trail Special Edition
Car review: 2021 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 Trail Special Edition

By Larry Lark, contributor If the great outdoors is your playground, it… Continue reading

Image courtesy Public Health Insider
Taking an upstream approach to preventing LGBTQ youth cannabis use | Public Health Insider

LGBTQ youth report the highest rates of marijuana use in King County.

Kathie Nguyen embraces Eileen & Callie's Place founder Dr. Natalie Ellington. Celebrate 18!, hosted on July 13, 2019, was also the day of Ellington's birthday. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Nonprofit to host birthday party for girls aging out of the foster care system

Eileen & Callie’s Place is hosting Celebrate 18!, a celebration and resource event, Saturday, July 17.

The Blues Brothers was one of the acts to grace the Buckley Concert Series in 2019. The 2020 concert series was canceled due to the pandemic. This year, the Blues Brothers will not be making an appearance during the series. Photo by Kevin Hanson
Free and outdoors, summer concerts set for Enumclaw, Buckley

Rock n’ roll, blues, jazz and more coming July, August

Image courtesy Public Health Insider
Supporting survivors of domestic violence during COVID-19 | Public Health Insider

DV-related homicides in King County nearly doubled in 2020, as compared to 2018 and 2019.

This scooter, along with other prizes, could be yours if you donate to Bloodworks Northwest this summer.
Donate blood, win an electric scooter, sports memorabilia

Regional non-profit Bloodworks Northwest faces a shortage of blood donations