This is a story about a young girl named Ana and how she and her family learned about sports injuries and how to treat them. The cover shows an illustration of Ana, one of the entire family at a picnic, one of Ana injured and holding her knee during a soccer game, and one of Ana in a hospital bed with an ice pack on her knee.
The next page introduces the family members in the story: Ana, her grandparents Juan and Isabel, her aunt Elena, uncle Carlos, uncle Tony, and cousins Néstor and María, who is a toddler.
It’s a beautiful summer day, and the family meets at a park for a picnic. Juan and Isabel are already setting up the grill. Elena is unpacking the car while Carlos brings food to the picnic table. The children are excited and run out of the car to play a quick game of soccer before the food is ready. Néstor yells, “Ana, I want you to show me that new move you used to win your school’s championship game! Let’s play a quick game before the food is ready.” Ana asks, “Tony, are you up for it?” Tony replies, “Let’s play!” But Carlos reminds them, “Make it a quick game…We’re almost ready to eat.”
While Juan and Isabel finish setting up, Carlos prepares the food, and Elena holds María. They all cheer the children on from a distance. “Great move, Ana!” yells Elena.
The children continue to play. Ana runs toward the goal, which is marked by two water jugs. She prepares to make the goal, and Néstor and Tony cheer for her, “Go cousin!” Ana smiles to herself and yells, “And for the win!”
Suddenly, Tony and Néstor start running toward Ana with Carlos following right behind them. Néstor yells, “Dad, I think Ana is hurt!” Ana is not visible in the scene, but she screams “OW!!!”
Ana sits on the ground grasping her knee. Carlos kneels beside her, observing her hands on her knee. The rest of the family stands close by. Ana cries, “OW, OW, OW! This really hurts!” Carlos says, “It looks like you hurt your knee pretty bad, Ana. Can you walk on it?”
Ana looks like she is in pain as she attempts to stand and put weight on her knee. Carlos holds her by the arm, trying to help her stand. Everyone surrounds them, looking concerned. Ana replies, “No, Uncle Carlos, I can’t even stand up without your help.”
With Ana’s family still looking on, Carlos helps her up. Elena hands María to her grandmother, Isabel. Carlos says, “We should take you to a doctor right away. Néstor, get some ice from the cooler! It will help keep the swelling down on the way to the emergency room.”
Carrying Ana, Carlos walks with Elena toward their minivan in the parking lot. The rest of the family watches from behind. Carlos says, “Elena and I will take Ana to the emergency room. Juan and Isabel—pack up here and take the kids home. Néstor and María, listen to your grandparents.” Isabel responds, “Don’t worry about it. Hurry now.”
Carlos carefully places Ana in the back seat of the minivan. Elena waits in the passenger seat. Ana holds a bag of ice on her knee. Ana asks, “Should I keep the ice on my knee the entire way?” Carlos replies, “Yes, Ana. And try to keep your leg from moving. Resting your leg and applying ice will help until we get to the hospital. Don’t worry, it’s just a few minutes away.”
A few hours later, Ana is lying in a bed in the emergency room, her injured leg elevated with an ice pack over her knee. Elena and Carlos stand next to Ana’s bed. Everyone looks toward the door as a man wearing a doctor’s coat walks in. “Hi, I’m Doctor Lopez. Ana, how does that knee feel?” he asks. Ana replies, “Much better, thank you. The ice is really helping.”
Dr. Lopez leans over Ana, carefully examining her knee while everyone looks on intently. Dr. Lopez says, “That’s great! I’m so glad that your family knew what to do. Resting your leg and putting ice on it right away can help your injury heal.” Ana says, “Yeah, Uncle Carlos used to coach high school soccer. He’s used to helping us out if we get hurt.” Carlos asks, “Is Ana ok? I hope it’s not a serious sports injury.”
The doctor says:
- “Sports injuries can range from a sprain or strain to a fracture or dislocation.
- Some are from accidents. Others can result from poor training practices or improper gear.
- Some people get injured when they are not in proper condition. Not warming up or stretching enough before you play or exercise can also lead to injuries.”
Ana now sits up on the bed. She listens carefully as Carlos and the doctor continue talking. Carlos asks, “Dr. Lopez, what is wrong with Ana?” Dr. Lopez replies, “Ana’s physical exam and tests did not reveal a serious injury. Tests did show that Ana has a minor knee sprain. In order to help her knee heal, she will need treatment.”
Dr. Lopez says, “Treating a sprained knee and many other sports injuries is simple. Just follow these steps for up to 48 hours after the injury occurs:
- Rest: Reduce or stop using the injured area for at least 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 as soon as possible 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: Ask your child’s doctor about elastic wraps, air casts, special boots, or splints that can be used to compress an injured ankle, knee, or wrist to reduce swelling.
- Elevation: Raise the injured area above the level of the heart to help reduce swelling. Use a pillow to help elevate an injured limb.
If you think the injury could be serious, call your doctor right away!”
Dr. Lopez smiles as he hands Ana a pamphlet labeled “Sports Injuries.” Dr. Lopez explains, “The second phase of treatment is rehabilitation. Ana, this means that you’ll need to do some exercises at home to make sure your knee sprain heals properly and quickly. Our nurses will show you how before you leave. Here is a pamphlet, so you don’t forget what those exercises are.” While the doctor explains this information to Ana and Carlos, Elena pulls out a pad of paper from her purse to take notes.
The doctor says:
“TREATMENT FOR SPRAINS AND STRAINS OFTEN INCLUDES REHABILITATION EXERCISES.
THESE EXERCISES ARE DESIGNED TO:
- reduce swelling
- prevent stiffness
- improve range of motion
- restore joint flexibility and strength
Doing your exercises the way a doctor tells you to will help you go back to doing your normal activities. It will also help avoid injuring the area again in the future.”
Elena, holding the pad of paper and a pencil, asks the doctor, “Dr. Lopez, what can be done to avoid sports injuries like this from happening again?” Carlos is in the background, listening intently. Dr. Lopez replies, “There is a lot that you can do.”
The doctor says:
“Make sure children get a variety of physical activity every day! Any kind of daily activity, including playing freely, can help children take on any sport.
Even if your child is active every day, injuries can happen during any sport.
HERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT CAN HELP PREVENT INJURIES.
- Enroll children in organized sports through schools, community clubs, and recreation areas that are properly maintained.
- Make sure children have—and consistently use—proper gear for a particular sport. This may reduce the chances of being injured.
- Make warm ups and cool downs part of children’s routine before and after participating in sports. Warm up exercises, such as stretching and light jogging, can help reduce the chance of muscle strain or other injury during sports.
- Make sure children have access to water or a sports drink while playing. Encourage them to drink often and stay properly hydrated.
BEFORE ANY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY OR SPORT, IT IS IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS, CAREGIVERS, AND COACHES TO MAKE SURE CHILDREN:
- Are in proper condition to play the sport.
- Get a physical exam before playing sports.
- Follow the rules of the game.
- Wear gear that protects, fits well, and is right for the sport.
- Know how to use athletic gear.
- Don’t play when they are very tired or in pain.”
Elena finishes taking notes and says, “Thank you, Dr. Lopez! I am happy to hear there is so much you can do to prevent sports injuries!” He responds, “Yes, there is. Feel free to share this information with family and friends.” Before Dr. Lopez walks out of the room, he says, “Take care, Ana! Nice meeting everyone.”
Minutes later, the nurse walks into the room holding crutches. She says, “Ana, good news! Dr. Lopez says you can go home after we show you some exercises.” Ana cheers, “Woo-hoo!” as she throws up her arms in celebration. Elena and Carlos smile with her.
Six weeks later, everyone is in Isabel’s backyard, enjoying the beautiful weather. Carlos and Elena are helping Juan with the garden while Isabel watches María play in an outdoor playpen. Tony, Néstor, and Ana kick a soccer ball to each other using their knees. Néstor says, “I’m glad the doctor said you could play soccer with us again. It’s not the same without you!”
Tony agrees, “Me, too. Let’s play!” Ana hesitates, and then exclaims, “You know what? We almost forgot to warm up and then stretch!”
Carlos says, “You better stretch and warm up. The last thing we want to do is spend another nice day in the E.R.!!” Everyone laughs in response, “Ha, ha, ha, ha.”
Ana, Néstor, and Tony do their favorite warm up exercises on the grass in Isabel’s backyard. Ana jogs in place, Néstor does jumping jacks, and Tony jumps rope. Ana says, “To learn more about my favorite stretching and warm up exercises, take a look at my list of resources.”
The resources are:
As the final scene, there is a picture of Ana, Néstor, and Tony running in Isabel’s backyard with a soccer ball in front of them. Underneath the picture, the text reads:
BE SURE TO ALWAYS:
- Warm up before playing.
- Drink plenty of fluids while playing.
- Rest when you are tired.
- Make sure an adult is around when playing group sports.
DISLOCATION: When the two bones that come together to form a joint become separated. Contact sports such as football, soccer, and basketball, as well as high-impact sports and sports that can result in excessive stretching or falling, cause the majority of dislocations. A dislocated joint is an emergency situation that requires medical treatment.
FRACTURE: A break in the bone that can occur from either a quick, one-time injury to the bone (acute fracture) or from repeated stress to the bone over time (stress fracture). A fractured bone is the same thing as a broken bone.
REHABILITATION: Exercise program designed to return the injured body part to a normal level of function.
SPRAIN: A stretch or tear of a ligament, the band of connective tissues that joins the end of one bone with another.
STRAIN: A twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon, a cord of tissue connecting muscle to bone.
For More Information About Sports Injuries and Other Related Conditions:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
National Institutes of Health
If you need more information about available resources in your language or another language, please visit our website or contact the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse at NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov.
NIH Publication No. 10-7525