We get it—this is your child’s first year of college. They have that basketball scholarship and they’re ready to play ball for their team. You’re really excited, but you’re nervous, too. After all, this is probably their first time away from home for an extended period of time—their first taste of “adulting.” And if you’re like most, it can be a pretty overwhelming realization that you can’t be there all the time to take care of them.
One common question that many parents of student athletes have is what to do if their child gets injured during an away game. Before, your child would just ask you to make you an appointment with the family doctor, they’d get checked out, and that would be the end of it. But now your child might be in a strange new area with limited transportation and no idea how to find a new doctor—and a limited budget, to boot. Here’s what you should do so they don’t freak out (at least, not as much) if they get injured playing basketball during their freshman year.
Tell Them To Have Their Documents Ready
First, you need to remind them to put their "adulting" cap on and figure out what their health insurance plan is. Figuring out things like this themselves is important for your child to learn in order to grow into an independent human being. If they are still on your family's health insurance plan, give them a copy of your insurance card. They may use their university's health insurance instead. Then help them to figure out what kind of plan they have; is it an HMO or a PPO? The answer matters, as it determines what doctors are in-network for them. Help them do some research for doctors and hospitals in their college town to find out who is in their network. In-network doctors will be cheaper than an out-of-network physician. Having their insurance documents in place and knowing who to call in an emergency are integral first steps.
Help Them Assess the Severity of Their Injury
Most injuries are fairly minor, and although it’s inconvenient, you can still function and your body will be able to heal by itself. These are things like bruises and shallow cuts. They’re painful, but likely not worth a trip to the hospital. However, if your child has any of these symptoms after their injury, it’s best for them to go to an urgent care or talk to a doctor:
- Cuts deeper than ½”
- Serious burns
- Severe pain with movement
- Severe muscle stiffness that doesn’t loosen up
- Painful bruising
- Large bumps or other physical deformities
- Suspected bone break
Even common injuries can be serious if they are bad enough. A hospital visit may be necessary in these instances. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you’ll need to go to the ER:
- Cut is bleeding profusely
- Cut doesn’t stop bleeding after 10 minutes of direct pressure
- Spurting blood
- Sudden confusion
- Loss of consciousness
- Dizziness that doesn’t go away
- Worsening chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing or vomiting blood
If they feel their symptoms are somewhere in-between the two extremes, typing them into a search engine can give them a starting point. Be wary of the results, however. Anyone can easily convince themselves of a doomsday scenario based on a sprained ankle.
Help Them Make a Game Plan
For minor injuries, your child can talk to a virtual doctor from the comfort of their dorm room. It may or may not be covered by your insurance, depending on what plan your family has and who’s providing the virtual care. However, they don’t need to worry about securing transportation or making an appointment, as these services are available 24/7 from the convenience of a smartphone or laptop.
If your child is seriously hurt, it’s important to encourage them to find resources that will help them to cope throughout the semester. If the injury is particularly serious, they will feel the ripple effects all semester long. Advise your child to keep their professors in the loop about what happened. Universities want to help students succeed, so they should talk to their disability resources office as well, and ask if their condition qualifies for assistance. Specialists in this office can assist them based on their needs. Do they need a new form of transportation or exam accommodations due to your temporary injury? The school has your child’s back, but it is up to you to reach out and to speak up for yourself first.
Getting seriously injured while living away from home can be a scary experience for your child. They are too busy as a student athlete to take any chances with their health. Make sure you help them find the knowledge and resources they need beforehand so neither you nor your child are left panicking.
Making sure your child is properly exercising their body will help them to have fewer injuries. Help them to train their bodies properly by sending them one of our resistance bands!