In this article I will talk about:
The basic First Aid techniques for common injuries in youth football.
The First Aid kit essentials
What is First Aid?
First Aid is basically the initial care given to a sick or injured person before expert medical help arrives and this is provided by trained personnel who are non-expert in the medical field. These involves series of life saving techniques to help reduce apparent injury risks either at home, work place or playgrounds.
In youth football, many types of injuries can be sustained and it the duty of the youth football coach [like any other sports coach] to provide adequate and effective First Aid which involves all the specific skills and knowledge. There are three main aims of first aid which can be summarised in the following key points:
Preserve Life– Preserving life is all about the provision of a clear passage of air into the mouth or nose of an unconscious person who may not be able to maintain an airway when the breathing control may not be functioning. A conscious person will normally be able to control their airway automatically.
Prevent further injury– To prevent further injury or worsening the injury, the necessary first aid procedures must be performed (see below for more details).
Promote Recovery – In promoting recovery, the trained first aider will need to provide the specific methods in dealing with the injuries concerned, such as grazes, cuts, bone fracture, cramps or cardiac arrest (which will need a CPR) and rehabilitation program.
The basic First Aid techniques
First Aid is a big subject with wide areas of expertise, that is why I shall be talking about the basic First Aid techniques related to common injuries in youth football that the coach can provide and these techniques will be summarised below. Please remember to check with your local First-Aid centres for more in-depth information on how to acquire better training.
Bruises – To treat bruising and swelling, the first aider will need to apply ice on the affected area for about 15 minutes at a time every two hours making sure to put a cloth or towel between the ice and the skin. A day or two after the bruising or swelling develops; you should apply a heat pack or warm cloth to the affected area.
Bleeding (cut, graze or scratch wounds) – These could be minor, here the first aider will need to put on disposable gloves, clean the cuts with a dry sterile dressing or clean lint-free material, apply pressure to stop the bleeding then dab with ointment or gel and protect with a sterile bandage. A deep wound will have to be referred to a hospital after following the minor injury procedure.
Head & Face injuries – These injuries could be serious and are associated with concussion (impaired consciousness), cuts, skull fractures, neck or spinal break. The First Aider’s immediate aim is to let the player lie down gently whilst avoiding turning the player’s head- this is to maintain an open airway, check for pulse & breathing and record all vital signals of response. If the player is unconscious, the airway should be opened with a jaw thrust technique in order to feel breathing then proceed by calling out to the player if they can hear you or open their eyes but if no response, the coach then need to carry out chest compression also known as the CPR [ placing one or two hands in the centre of the chest using the heel of the hands with arms straight to press down about 30 times at the rate of 100-120 p/min] then perform the rescue breath method [make sure the airway is open, seal your lips around the child’s mouth and blow gently into their lungs. If the chest rises, stop blowing to allow it to fall then repeat this 5 times until they show signs of recovery or until proper medical assistance arrives.
Asthma Attack – Asthma is a medical condition that attacks the muscles of the air passages when the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs become narrowed thereby making it difficult to breathe. To administer first-aid, help the player to sit in a comfortable position to ease breathing and reassure them. If they have their inhaler let them take 3-5 puffs according to the asthma plan given to them by their doctor but if the player has none, then the coach need to reach for one from the first-aid kit. The coach should or would have known about the player’s condition from the medical information submitted in their registration form.
Ankle, Foot or Toe injuries – when injuries to these areas are minor, they are usually treated at home to relieve symptoms and promote healing but in case they are serious, the first-aider or the coach will need to take the appropriate measures in dealing with the affected areas using any of the following first-aid techniques.
With a broken bone, it is not advisable to push the bone back into the skin if it is sticking out but to leave it as it is by carefully covering the affected area with a clean bandage or hold together with a splint.
With sprained ankle or toe injury, the first thing to do is to use the P.R.I.C.E method (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) to reduce the swelling and pain, also use soft padding bandage. If pain persists then an assessment need to made to ascertain whether a visit to the specialist is warranted however if it is pain free, try massaging gently to allow the flow of blood whilst avoiding hot substances such as hot water or heat gels until 48-72hrs and then start gentle exercises of movement & strength without too much strain.
Back Pain – Mostly, footballers feel pain in the lower back. If this happens, there are various types of simple treatments that can be applied:
Walking- Taking a brisk walk for about 10-20mins every 2hrs might do the trick.
Heat Therapy- Hot pool bath could be useful for some players whilst cold compression therapy (ice pack) may be suited to others.
Exercises like flexible stretching could be effective in relieving pain however this should be done with due care so as not to aggravate the pain.
Massage Therapy, massaging may be more appropriate remedy, visiting an experienced massage therapist-http://wwwtouchpointsmassage.co.uk, could be the answer to ending the back pain problems.
Medicines, using simple pain relieving medicines like Ibuprofen or Paracetamol, might just be the solution.
Muscle Pulls – The initial first-aid treatment is to protect the affected area by applying soft padding and then resume the P.R.I.C.E method which will accelerate healing, reduce swelling and keep the blood from clotting in the injured area but if there is a severe pain then a visit to a medical expert is advisable as this might be a sign of broken bone, sprain or muscle tear.
Shoulder, joint and all other dislocations would be the job for the expert medical professional, any attempt to try reducing or replacing the joint must be avoided.
Shin Splints, examination of the cause of pain is absolutely necessary in order to choose the right treatments. If it is certain that it is stress fracture, then a rest is usually the best treatment by taking a break from training for about 6-7 weeks to help the bone heal.
The First Aid kit essentials
Having the right First aid kit that will make responding to an accident or injury quicker and effective is very important. Here is a list of essential items that must be in the normal First aid kit used in youth football.
Tweezers, Hand Sanitizers, Gauge and Tapes, Disposable Gloves,
Wipes, Cleaning Solutions, Antibiotic Cream, Ointments & Pain relieve gels,
Adhesive Bandages, Elastic Plasters, Thermometers, Inhalers for Asthma,
Disinfectants, Instant Cold Packs, Scissors, Cotton Swabs,
Heat & Cold Sprays, Pain Killers, Smelling Salt.
The importance of having the right First Aid Kit cannot be over emphasized, making sure the health & safety of the players is top of the agenda.
Maybe I have missed out something and you feel you can add more information about the first aid in youth football, then don’t hesitate to add your comment below in the box