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Oscar’s track: Play ball!

Community Columnist

Spring is just around the corner. It’s time to put away the shovels and mittens and get out the lawn rakes. It’s time to take off the studded snow tires and get out the bicycles.

It’s also the perfect time to encourage your kids to get outside and play.

Organized or impromptu, all kids need to run, jump, skip and climb. It’s how their bones and muscles become strong. It’s how they develop coordination, balance and confidence. Just as important, it’s how they can learn valuable life skills such as cooperation, strategy, negotiation and teamwork. The right exercise is vital to growing bodies and minds.

In this column, I will talk about keeping kids safe and healthy by encouraging the right activity for each child. I’ll explain why children and adolescents are more susceptible to some types of injury. I’ll discuss which injuries are most common and provide advice on reducing risks. And I’ll provide some treatment advice for a full and complete recovery from an injury.

To begin, I’d like to share some statistics gathered by Safe Kids USA. Safe Kids USA is a nationwide network of organizations working to prevent unintentional childhood injury.

On its website, safekids.org, the group reports that more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year, and injuries associated with participation in sports and recreational activities account for 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States. Also, overuse injuries, which occur over time from repeated motion, are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle and high school students. Most organized sports-related injuries (62 percent) occur during practices rather than games.

Among athletes ages 5 to 14, 15 percent of basketball players, 28 percent of football players, 22 percent of soccer players, 25 percent of baseball players and 12 percent of softball players have been injured while playing their respective sports.

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