Sport, sports and more sports. An American culture, favorite pass time and in some cases an obsession. Children's sports can be an exciting and fun part of growing up as they learn rules and teamwork, develop physical skills, friendships and gain important health benefits. According to a study from Children's Hospital in Boston an estimated 30 million children and teens play some form of organized sport. However, in the overall population physical activity amongst youngsters has decreased causing an epidemic of childhood obesity and related diseases.
With this love /obsession of sports including extreme sports, over 3 million injuries occur in adolescents each year, making sports the leading cause of adolescent injuries. An alarming rate of increased pediatric sports surgeries are on the rise with good cause for concern.
Some Common Injuries In Young Athletes:
Overuse injuries on muscles, tendons and bones occur from repetitive stress motion that comes from heavy specific sports training. Acute injuries are caused by trauma or accidents. A very common condition called Osteochrondritis Dissecans where the bone in a joint dies or dislodges creating a cavity in the joint. Most commonly seen in the knee. Pediatric ACL tears affect ligaments in the center of the knee. Apophysitises a very common injury to growth plates were were tendons insert into bones near the growth plate. The most common apophysitises occur in the front lower leg bone also know as Osgood Schlatter's disease. Apophysitis can also be seen in the shoulder, elbow, ankle/heel and foot. Children get different injuries than adults because of the growing process. Growth and maturity in a young persons body is controlled by timed hormonal changes commonly known as growth spurts and are particularly evident during puberty. These growth spurts cause decreased flexibility. The bones grow faster than the tendons, muscles and ligaments resulting in increased tightness which leads to injury when pushed or overly trained.
When children get injured physical rehabilitation will help return an athlete back to sports. Typically young children age 5-6 years of age do better with a one to one retraining program. Older children high school aged respond well to a structured group therapy program. However, specific recommendations vary from case to case. A simple but effective program call (MICE). Modification of acitivities, Ice, Compression and Elevation work wonders. Over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medications such as ibphrofen is a safe short term remedy and can help but remember they only mask the pain symptoms.
Before returning to sports make sure your athlete is SAFE with little risk or re-injury. To often young athletes return to their sport before they are completely healed. A typical road to recovery includes 1) control pain, 2) improve range of motion, 3) recover strength and flexiblity, 4) restore function pain free. Working with qualified health professionals, coaches and physical trainers that have knowledge of treating sports related injuries is imperative.
With children starting sports as young as three years old, parents and coaches must pay special attention and modify training appropriately. If the child complains of pain or swelling with no apparent injury, night pain, fever or weight loss, these are signs to seek medical attention.
Keep in mind the more injuries and or surgeries a child endures during his/her growth period the more prone to muscular-skeletal pain later in life. A healthy balance of sports and other activities puts it all into prospective.
Care of the Young Athlete by American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine www.amazon.com
The Adolescent Athlete: A practical Approach by Lyle J. Micheli and Laura Purcell www.amazon.com