Today we see more musculoskeletal injuries in our youth athletes than we desire but what is the cause(s). Now with athletic competition comes an inherent risk for injury just as driving a vehicle places you at a greater risk for being involved in a MVA, but these are adult injuries that we see occurring in our adolescent population. Some factors that are likely contributing factors are overuse, inadequate training, and improper movement patterns or mechanics. Some of the more common examples we see are in our young throwers with shoulder/elbow injuries who participate in baseball/softball basically year round with fall ball and spring/summer travel ball. There is a plethora of research that suggests this type of repetitive activity places these athletes at a greater risk for overuse type injuries such as UCL or “Tommy John” at the elbow or labral and rotator cuff injuries at the shoulder. These activities are demanding for adequately trained adult athletes that compete at the highest level therefore even more demanding on the skeletally immature adolescent population. Another injury that we see occurring in adolescents are growth plate injuries. These can be dangerous as it is usually traumatic from high impact events and oftentimes require surgical intervention to stabilize the fracture. Additionally with these types of injuries we can see long term effects with interrupted growth creating even bigger issues down the road for these youngsters.
As health care providers it is our job to not only educate our patients and their parents of these inherent risks but to also inform them of strategies that support healthy development yet safe participation in sport. One strategy that seems to be collaborative thought in the healthcare world is participating in a variety of sports. This ensures that overuse type activities such as overhead throwing do not occur, lowering the risk of injuries occurring as a result of overuse.
From a development standpoint this allows kids to develop many different movement patterns and skill sets due to the physical demands and strategies unique to each individual sport. If your child is suffering from injuries related to sport, let our staff at First Choice get them back on the right track to allow for a safe return to competition.
To Your Health,
Dr. Johnny Gray PT, DPT