Athletics have become a major part of our kids lives. Even from the time they are very young, 2-4 years old, we enroll them in gymnastics, dance class, soccer, karate, baseball, basketball, and football. Swimming, cheering, wrestling, biking, volleyball, and lacrosse are available as well as many more. A recent report by Safe Kids Worldwide found that every 25 seconds a youth athlete suffers an injury severe enough to require a trip to the emergency room as reported by www.moveforward.com, the APTA's consumer informational website.
Of these emergency room visits 12% are concussions, with 12-15 year old children making up nearly HALF of those. Concussions have been a major discussion in the last few years for athletes participating in contact sports in high school, college, and pro-sport atmospheres. But the danger begins much earlier.
One of the other high percentage injuries is knee injuries. Injuries to the knees account for 10% of emergency room visits. Females, especially those that are pre-teen and teen aged, are 8 times more likely to have an ACL injury than males of the same age.
Fractures are also common emergency room visits for young athletes. Fractures can occur to any bone of the body, with wrist, hand, and arm fractures being the most frequent due to falls. Shoulder and elbow injuries are common among those sports that use throwing or hitting motions, like baseball and volleyball. Many youths that show skill at pitching are encouraged to throw curve balls too early leading to tendonitis and strain on the elbow and shoulder tendons and ligaments. High frequency of pitching in practice and games can cause a good youth/high school pitcher to never be able to progress to the college or pro level because of the early damage done.
If your child is active and participating in sports it is important to be discussing how they feel after practice and games. It is important to discuss with your doctor any injuries, and see a physical therapist to be sure that even minor injuries heal correctly and do not lead to long term problems. All athletes should consult with a nutritionist around the teenage years to discuss how hormones and diet can effect your performance and risk for injury, especially females. Developing a safe body image, for dancers and gymnasts and wrestlers, where making weight and staying slim are valued, or for linemen in football who are encouraged to be heavy or stay heavy is so important.
If your child wants to participate in sports it is so important to be in constant communication with your child and their doctors, nutritionist, physical therapist, athletic trainers, etc... to be sure they are protecting their future and those "old high school injuries" that we adults complain of, do not become chronic problems for our kids.