Every year, more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and younger suffer a sports injury—and that number’s on the rise. But half of these injuries can be prevented, says John Hurley, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Summit Medical Group in New Jersey.

While the type of injury varies depending on the activity, there are general signs that point to a sports injury. “If your child favors one side of the body, has trouble breathing, feels dizzy or suffers from joint stiffness, something may be wrong,” Hurley says.

So what can you do? “Increase conditioning and training, avoid having your kids play for multiple teams simultaneously, and give children three to four months of rest time,” Hurley suggests. But most important, pay attention.

“Trust your instincts,” Hurley says. “You know your child better than anyone. If you think something is wrong, it probably is.”

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