“A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.”
— JAMES DENT, AUTHOR
If you ask anyone who has ever been a kid, they will most likely tell you that summer is the best time of year. After languishing through the dark and chilly days of winter and spring—school’s out, the days are longer, the weather’s warmer, and even the most sedentary of children are clamoring to go outside and enjoy themselves in the sun. As parents would like to embrace the idyllic vision of their youngsters enjoying the outdoor pleasures of biking, baseball, swimming, and skateboarding—summer can also be a dangerous time of year for children. Often called the “trauma season” by health care professionals, during the summer months the majority of unintentional deaths and serious injuries involving children increases dramatically—beginning in May, peaking in July, and declining in September.1
With kids participating in extreme sports, team sports, unsupervised activities, and accidents, emergency departments are seeing an increased occurrence of extreme injuries among youngsters, including musculoskeletal injuries, repetitive motion injuries, heat exhaustion, spinal cord trauma, and traumatic brain injury. It simply is not possible to keep children indoors during the upcoming summer months, so how can such injuries be avoided? Awareness and education are key.
Physical rehabilitation and sports rehab professionals can be a valuable safety resource to both the parents and the children in their communities. By teaming up with local children’s sports leagues, swim and skate shops, or recreational centers, therapists can help create customized safety-awareness programs for both the child and their parents. Physical therapists suggest the appropriate equipment, protective gear, and environments for activities, as well as adult supervision (especially for the very young) and times for activity (ie, staying out of the heat). Therapists might also consider launching facility-based summer sports activity classes and training packages for children of all ages and abilities. In addition, by implementing a physical evaluation program for children prior to their enrolling in physical activity programs, a professional can suggest sports or activities best suited to a youngster’s strengths and abilities.
By learning from physical therapy professionals how to take safety precautions during summer sports and outdoor activities, both parents and children can enjoy the season with confidence and peace of mind.
—ROGENA SCHUYLER SILVERMAN