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Know Your Options If Your Child is Injured at School

When the school nurse or coach calls, know your options when it comes to fast, knowledgeable care.

Our children spend nearly eight hours a day, five days of the week, roaming the halls of their elementary, middle, or high school. With so much time spent in schools, odds are, accidents will happen. Some involve minor cuts and scrapes, while others involve playground or sports injuries.

No parent wants to get that call from the school nurse, but, if it comes, you should be prepared. Doctors’ offices are usually accommodating when it comes to seeing an injured child, but what if you need to see a doctor as soon as possible? Thankfully, the staff at CCHC Urgent Care are ready to assist at a moment’s notice. Walk-ins are always welcome, but the facility now offers two additional ways to reduce wait times: Online appointment scheduling and a call ahead service that lets you wait at school or home in comfort.

We’ll look more closely at the advantages of CCHC Urgent Care in a bit, but first, let’s understand the most common ways our children can be injured at school.

The Big Five

The most common accidents leading to injury in schools, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, are:

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Fifty-five percent of all major accidents in education facilities are caused by slips or trips, resulting in nearly 2,000 incidents in 2014 alone. The most common (and obvious) places for these types of accidents to happen are in corridors, on playgrounds—especially on play equipment—parking lots or other areas open to the elements, and on stairs.

Accidents can also happen in classrooms, especially where backpacks are left lying around or wires for TVs and computers are not adequately secured.

Defective Equipment

Accidents caused by defective equipment is another very common way children can get injured. These incidents can be avoided and responsibility lies solely on the shoulders of the administrators and maintenance staff in our schools.

As all parents know, children like to play around and on equipment that isn’t meant for that purpose. Poorly maintained equipment like chairs, desks, or gym equipment can lead to serious injury for children and should be checked on a regular basis and repairs or replacements made whenever necessary.

Playground equipment should also be kept to a high standard as, again, they are a common way for children to get injured.

Accidents Involving Doors

As you can imagine, a school has a lot of doors. This presents an increased risk of injury, either through students being hit by opening or closing doors or through fingers becoming trapped between doors or in hinges.

Finger trapping injuries are the most common accidents caused by doors, while injuries caused by being hit with a door can be more serious.

School administrators should look to reduce the risks by ensuring proper order is kept in classrooms and corridors and see about the install finger guards on doors to prevent finger trapping.

Food Poisoning

Although not a common occurrence, incidents of food poisoning have been reported. While not technically an injury or accident, the number of children who suffer food poisoning at school makes it worth mentioning.

Obviously by maintaining a high level of hygiene in the cafeteria and other food preparation areas, the risk of food poisoning is greatly reduced.

Sports Injuries

The very nature of playing sports leaves anyone open to the possibility of suffering an injury, but this risk is increased in schools due to the number of people involved, the level of supervision required and, in some cases, the quality of equipment provided. For these reasons, sports injuries are among the most common experienced by students at school.

With well-maintained equipment, a well-trained staff, and high levels of supervision, the risk can greatly be reduced.

Aside from the “usual” cuts and bruises, broken bones, and sprained ankles that can occur during school sports, parents should also be aware of two other dangerous outcomes: Concussions and dehydration.

Focus on Sports-related Injuries

Most sports-related head injuries, such as concussions, which temporarily interfere with the way the brain works, are mild and allow for complete recovery. However, concussion in children also can pose serious health risks.

Dr. Sherilyn W. Driscoll with the Mayo Clinic wants parents to understand that head injuries take time to heal and children need time to rest until their symptoms are gone, which usually takes several days to several weeks. Children who return to school after a concussion may require some classroom adjustments, including a lighter course load or a shortened school day. If an activity such as reading or jogging causes symptoms, such as headache, the child should take a break, then resume the activity for shorter periods and gradually work up to pre-concussion levels as symptoms improve.

Children can develop complications if they return to sports and other activities before a concussion has healed. Another blow to the head while the initial concussion is healing can occasionally result in longer lasting symptoms or more-permanent damage.

To protect your child from head injuries, insist on appropriate and properly fitted protective equipment, such as a helmet, during sports and other activities. However, even the best protective equipment can’t prevent all concussions.

You can have a concussion without losing consciousness. Also, a blow to the body that jars the head can result in concussion. Make sure your child’s coach knows if your child has had a concussion. Your child shouldn’t return to play until he or she has been cleared by a medical professional.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion according to the Mayo Clinic may include:

  • Headache or a feeling of “pressure” in the head;
  • Nausea or vomiting;
  • Balance problems or dizziness;
  • Double or blurry vision;
  • Sensitivity to light or noise;
  • Feeling sluggish, groggy, or dazed;
  • Difficulty paying attention;
  • Memory problems;
  • Confusion;
  • Numbness or tingling;
  • Sleeping problems;
  • Mood changes; and
  • Changes in behavior.

If you think your child has a concussion, seek immediate medical help. Your child’s doctor will determine how serious the concussion is and when it’s safe for your child to return to sports, school, or other activities.

Another big concern for parents is dehydration. The Mayo Clinic wants parents to know that any time children or adolescents play sports or get physically active in hot weather, they’re at risk of heat-related illnesses.

Your child might be vulnerable to dehydration and other heat-related illnesses in a hot or humid environment if he or she:

  • Wears clothing or protective gear that contributes to excessive heat retention;
  • Rarely exercises;
  • Is overweight or obese;
  • Is sick or had a recent illness, especially involving diarrhea, vomiting, or a fever;
  • Is taking certain supplements or medications, such as cold medicine;
  • Has a chronic condition, such as diabetes; or
  • Isn’t well-rested.

The risk of heat-related problems is greater within the first few days of activity in a hot environment. That’s why it’s best to take it easy at first, gradually increasing the amount of activity—and the amount of protective equipment—as the days pass. Young athletes might need up to two weeks to safely acclimate to the heat.

During hot and humid conditions, coaches are encouraged to:

  • Require young athletes to drink plenty of fluids before practice and during regular beverage breaks—even if they aren’t thirsty.
  • Make sure clothing is light colored, lightweight, and loose fitting, or exposes as much of the skin as possible.
  • Limit activity at midday when the temperature is hottest.
  • Decrease or stop practices or competitions if necessary or move them indoors or to a shady area.
  • Ensure that fluid is available at all times.

Even mild dehydration can affect your child’s athletic performance and make him or her lethargic and irritable. Left untreated, dehydration increases the risk of other heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.

Encourage your child to pay attention to early signs and symptoms of dehydration, including:

  • Dry or sticky mouth;
  • Thirst;
  • Headache;
  • Dizziness;
  • Cramps;
  • Excessive fatigue;
  • Disinterest in the game; and
  • Inability to run as fast or play as well as usual.

Remind your child that he or she should report signs and symptoms to the coach right away. Don’t let embarrassment keep your child on the field. If dehydration is detected early, fluids and rest might be all that’s needed. If your child seems confused or loses consciousness, seek emergency care.

When Accidents Happen, Think CCHC Urgent Care

Unfortunately, no matter how vigilant we as parents are, not injuries can be prevented. Your physician’s office may offer same-day appointments for care, but urgent care is a great option when appointments are unavailable or if you need treatment outside normal office hours. Thankfully, CCHC’s New Bern Family Practice Urgent Care is open seven days a week and ready to examine any injury your child may suffer. Whether you’re dealing with an earache, a cut, insect or pet bites, sprains, fractures, or breathing issues, a highly-qualified team of doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners are on hand to help.

To help you and your family spend less time in the waiting room, CCHC Urgent Care now offers three convenient ways to access care:

  1. Request online appointment: Spend less time in our waiting room. You can select an appointment time that is convenient for you and be seen at that time.
  2. Call ahead, wait at home, and save your spot in line. This is not an appointment. You will be given an arrival time to check in at the front desk. Call (252) 638-CARE (2273).
  3. Walk-ins are welcome anytime during business hours: Check in at the front desk. You will be able to view your estimated wait time on our new wait time monitor.

If you make an online appointment or call ahead, you’ll receive a text message reminder shortly before you are scheduled to arrive.

But you may argue, “If I need an X-ray, an EKG, or blood work I have to go to the hospital, right?” The answer is actually, “No.” New Bern Family Practice Urgent Care provides excellent laboratory and X-ray services, can run diagnostic tests, and even dispense prescriptions. All the services you may need in a minor emergency are located in one convenient location and provided by a caring and attentive staff.

CCHC Urgent Care is located at 1040 Medical Park Ave., New Bern, North Carolina. Call (252) 638-CARE (2273) for more information.

Hours:
Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Holidays: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas

(Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; Mayo Clinic; Safe Kids Worldwide; Utah Department of Health; and Cardea Solutions Ltd.)