Sports injuries happen every day, from the minor to the more severe. As many as 25,000 Americans might sprain their ankle on any given day while recent media coverage of the prevalence of concussions in professional sports has shed new light on the potential dangers of athletics at any age.
If you or your child is injured in a sports-related activity, should you rush to an emergency room or an urgent care clinic? Like any other type of injury, the answer all depends on the severity of the situation at hand.
With as many as 20,000 doctors employed in urgent care centers around the country — 85% of which are open seven days a week — urgent, rather than emergency care, is usually the go-to option for sports-related bumps, scrapes, bruises, and busts, such as sprains, muscle strain, lacerations, and even swimmer’s ear. Emergency care should be reserved only for the most severe or life-threatening forms of injury. Minor broken bones and cuts can be dealt with in urgent care settings, which are common to contact or outdoor sports.
Detecting concussions is another matter. If you witness someone experience a blow to the head, observe whether they experience any consequent headaches, ringing in the ears, light sensitivity, or sudden sleepiness. These could be signs of a minor concussion and they should be directed to an urgent care facility immediately. Urgent care clinics are well equipped to provide adequate medical attention for minor concussions.
However, if the person loses consciousness or is experiencing extreme nausea or vomiting as a result of a head injury, it may require a visit to the ER. Emergency care facilities have better access to brain-scanning equipment that can assess the severity of the injury and better deal with any immediate threats to brain health.
Sports may be a central part of many people’s lives, but you can’t play dumb when it comes to addressing injuries. Know the difference between a medical emergency that requires ER attention and one that can be remedied with urgent care solutions. A better public awareness and understanding of common sports injuries like concussions can help ensure a safer playing field for all.