To play or not to play; that is the question. Should we resist children’s pleas for permission, or let them face the risks of growing up into adults? Well, there's no choice really, is there? If every parent in the world had their way, all children would be placed inside child-sized egg cartons, safe from the dangers of every day life. But kids will be kids…
Bone fractures, strains & sprains, cuts, road rash, and concussions top the list of sports related Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) diagnosis.
Sometimes a fracture has little external evidence aside from a bruise (contusion) and significant pain. Having fractured a clavicle (shoulder) and a metatarsal (foot), the pain most assuredly is immense, and it requires an x-ray for diagnosis, which can be provided at an UCC. Slings, casts, and other assistive devices are also available at your UCC.
Compound fractures are horrifying to look at because a broken bone may be poking through the skin or the limb may be bent in an unusual fashion. Clearly this needs the attention of an Emergency Room.
Strains & Sprains
Related, but different, these are both stretching or tearing injuries. A strain occurs when you stretch or tear a muscle or tendon. The tendon is fibrous cord that connects your muscles to your bones. These injuries occur when you exceed the limits of your body, for example weight lifters, or when doing hurdles at a track & field event.
Sprains occur when ligaments are stretched or torn. These small bands of tough fibrous tissue hold two bones in a joint in relation to each other so that the joints don't come apart or move in inappropriate directions. If you walk on uneven ground, your ankle may turn too far causing a sprain.
Cuts & Lacerations
Although essentially the same, a cut is generally smooth and clean, such as the injury caused by a piece of glass or a blade. Lacerations are generally ragged tears such as you might get from being struck by a pitched baseball, or getting stepped on by a football cleat.
This term, often applied to motorcyclists that have fallen from their moving bikes and slid for a distance on the concrete, can also be applied to cyclists or skateboarders that have "wiped out". We make sure kids have helmets so their precious little brains don't get destroyed, but unless you can get them into a suit of medieval armor they are going to end up with some occasional scrapes. If the skin is still there, then all you have to do is clean up with some antiseptic, cover with a sterile dressing, and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get infected while it's healing.
Of course if the skin is split open or the bleeding doesn't stop it will definitely need some professional attention, such as proper cleaning, sterilization and suturing. If skin is missing so that you can see muscle or bone, well, that is definitely emergency room territory.
Concussions need to be treated very seriously. If someone suffers a blow to the head, does not lose consciousness, and amnesia (if present) lasts for less than 30 minutes, that is a Grade I concussion. If someone loses consciousness for 5 minutes or more, or has amnesia for more than 24 hours that's a Grade III concussion, the most serious kind. Grade II is everything in between.
If concussion symptoms include having lost consciousness and/or seizures, vomiting, lack of coordination, or compromised mental function, the victim needs to go to an emergency room. Even for lesser injuries that didn't involve a loss of consciousness, stop the activity that caused it.
A second blow, before the brain has had a chance to heal, can be fatal; it can cause the brain to swell beyond the ability of the skull to hold it. It is essential to consult with a medical professional. They can advise about further care.
Urgent Care Clinics (UCC)
Grade I concussions can be properly assessed at your UCC. Similarly, Heat Stress & Exhaustion, or cuts, gashes, abrasions, and contusions that just require cleanup or suturing, can all be treated at your local UCC without need of an expensive ER visit. The same is true for strains, sprains, and simple fractures that require slings, braces, or even X-rays and a cast.
Generally speaking, just about any injury sustained from playing sports can be treated at your UCC. The main exceptions would be loss of consciousness and compound fractures.
Life is an adventure, so get out there and experience it. You can hide inside, or enjoy the ride. Ultimately the risk is both minimal and worth it! Are you going to be the "I wish I had…" person, or the "I'm glad I did…" person?