Parents and coaches need to be educated on the risks and signs of overuse injuries common in children who specialize in a single sport at a young age, say authors of a recent research review published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Surgery, they concur, should not be the first-line treatment for such injuries.
An increasing number of children are focusing on 1 sport early, often because parents and coaches are enticed by the possibility of scholarships and professional participation, “increasing emphasis on sports accomplishment,” and perceived value of elite competition, authors note. But the evidence, say authors, suggests that children who wait until age 12 or older to specialize in 1 sport or begin intense training reach higher levels of athletic achievement than those who specialize at a younger age.
In general, say authors, young athletes’ “underdeveloped musculature” and still-growing bones make them prone to overuse injuries such as rotator cuff tendinitis, shoulder instability, humeral epiphysiolysis, knee and elbow ligament injuries, hip impingement, and stress fractures, among others. The strain to a developing body also may increase their risk of injury as adults.
Authors of a new study of college athletes say that concussion creates a “window of susceptibility” in players that more than triples the risk of a later lower extremity musculoskeletal injury over nonconcussed athletes. This finding, they write, “implies that return-to-play guidelines may not be sufficient … to protect athletes” from other, later injuries.
Researchers tracked injury patterns among 73 concussed athletes (52 male, 21 female) in the University of Florida’s football, lacrosse, soccer, and basketball programs, pairing each athlete with 2 nonconcussed athletes who played the same sport and position. The concussed athletes in the study—referred to by authors as the “exposed” athletes—were all returned to play with at least 30 days left in the season. Monitoring of in-season injury incidence continued for the rest of the season, or as much as 90 days after return to play, whichever came first. Athletes with a history of concussion within the past 6 months were excluded, as were those whose concussions occurred outside the competitive season.
“Avoiding Skiing and Snowboaring Injuries Like Olympians,” is the title of Move Forward Radio’s latest episode, premiering on February 6, hosted by APTA. The program features Amber Donaldson, PT, DPT, MPhysio (Manip), SCS, CSCS, an APTA member and a physical therapist at the US Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Donaldson discusses how to avoid injuries while skiing and snowboarding and her role in helping Team USA prepare for the Olympic and the Paralympic games.
While proper technique will help skiers and snowboarders avoid falls, Donaldson explains that having adequate body strength will help prevent injury in the event of a spill. “If it’s a small fall, your shoulder isn’t going to dislocate or you’re not going to really tear up your wrist if you’ve got appropriate strength and technique,” she said. In the event of a fall, Donaldson advises skiers to “ditch the poles” and sit back when falling. She advises snowboarders to keep their fists closed and arms close to their bodies so they land on forearms instead of outstretched arms.