Protect Young Athletes from Injuries
By Malia Jacobson
ports injuries are sidelining more young athletes than ever before, a trend that concerns doctors, coaches, and parents. According to the STOP Sports Injury Campaign (stopsportsinjuries.org), two million sports injuries strike high school students each year. Doctors are seeing serious injuries in children as young as 5; kids under 14 account for 40 percent of sports-related injuries treated in hospitals.
Sports injuries can stop budding athletes in their tracks and reduce their ability to enjoy healthy exercise later in life, says Lyle J. Micheli, M.D., director of sports medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. Doctors point to several reasons for recent increases in injury rates: greater recognition of some types of injury (like concussion); year-round training for athletes; and more intense training at younger ages. “Young kids—11, 12 years old—are swimming thousands of yards a day,” says Dr. Micheli. “A decade ago, we wouldn’t see that type of training intensity until college.” Fear of injury shouldn’t stop kids from participating in sports. Organized 12 MendoLakeFamilyLife
sports boost fitness and teach important skills like cooperation, perseverance, and team building. Help ensure that your budding athlete stays
Childhood sports set the stage for a lifetime of healthy, active living. on the field and out of the emergency room with the right safety measures. Focus on fun. Enjoyment is the key to safe sportsmanship, says Dr. Micheli, so make sure kids truly want to participate. Those who play to please parents, friends, or coaches, instead of themselves, may be less likely to take a break if they’re in pain or fatigued.
Watch for signs of burnout, including irritability, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, and difficulties at school. These symptoms can indicate that a child is working too hard and needs a change of pace. Take a break. Young athletes who train year-round are more prone to injury, says Marci Goolsby, M.D., assistant attending physician at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery in the Women’s Sports Medicine Center. Adequate downtime between seasons allows tissues to rest and repair. She recommends a minimum of two weeks off; a full month is ideal. Watch for signs. Early detection and treatment of an injury are important to recovery, says Dr. Micheli, so parents should be aware
July 2015 www.mendolakefamilylife.com