Playing sports provides so many benefits for kids! They get to release all that pent-up energy, build self-confidence, learn about commitment and relationship-building, and of course, have fun! Physical activity can also help improve their cognitive health, social skills, and psychological health.
This is all true for medically complex kids, too, though it may feel infinitely more complicated. There are certain things that, as a parent or caregiver, you have to take into consideration to keep your kid safe when playing sports.
As you well know, it can sometimes feel like danger lurks around every corner for your kid. Especially now, in the wake of COVID-19, there are plenty of variables related to health for you to consider. In that regard, we suggest taking every doctor-recommended health precaution. COVID-19 aside (as if it’s that simple), we have to remember that isolation and low self-esteem can be dangerous for our kids, too.
No matter what health complication your child is dealing with — a stoma, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, or a central line to take care of — there are risks associated with physical activity. For that reason, even if you’re just a little bit curious about finding a sport for your kid, it’s vital to talk to a trusted doctor who has in-depth knowledge of their medical history. They can help you measure the risk and figure out a path forward that allows your child to participate somehow.
Remember, parenthood is like a sport itself, and your doctor is on your team.
After your doctor provides a complete physical examination, they can help you settle on an appropriate sport. Among other things, you can narrow it down based on what’s available in your area, your child’s mobility, and whether or not you want them to avoid contact sports. If your child can’t participate in something like soccer or baseball, how about horseback riding, swimming, or dance? There’s almost always an alternative.
Make sure the coach of whatever sport you choose to pursue knows the details of your child’s health history. Just like your doctor, they should become a part of your trusted health care team, so feel free to vet them. They should understand when it’s appropriate to push your kid and when to make adjustments to the rules.
When combined, willpower and plain old follow-through can take you far. Even if things seem impossible, there’s usually a way. Just look to professional athletes — there are people with all kinds of disabilities participating in, and sometimes dominating, the world of sports.
For example, athletes with stomas who are doing incredible things include Rob Hill, a British mountain climber who scaled Everest, and Spyros Barre, an American marathon runner. Then there are the incredible men and women who continue or start playing a sport after amputation, paralysis, and other debilitating accidents or procedures.
Ultimately, sports can foster an indescribable sense of belonging for your kid, and that’s priceless. Plus, every year, new advancements are emerging in medical treatment and medical accessories that will allow your child to participate safely. Here at Gus Gear, we’ve been conferring with clinicians about potential updates to some of our products as well. Our goal is the same as it has always been — to help you break free from limitations.