Sports Injuries and Children

Summer is now here, and it’s an opportunity for kids who are involved in one, two, maybe three sports to get a bit of rest. But a lot of kids go year round in their athletics now; it’s one reason for the rise in sports injuries in kids. More than three and a half million kids under the age of 14 receive medical care for sports injuries each year. But overuse injuries are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries in middle and high school students. And experts are saying the problem is getting out of hand. Jessica Godfrey of the eagles soccer team was forcibly grounded because of an injury earlier this season. “I was trying to get the ball and this really big girl hit my foot and it hurt really bad,” says Jessica.

“Well it was horrible,” adds her mother Christina. “She just went down to the ground and then she looked at my husband, and he could tell that something was wrong and she just had, he had to carry her off the field.” Fortunately, it was not a serious injury for Jessica. She laid low, and was back on the field after only a week. But for a lot of kids, injuries aren’t due to a sudden event as in Jessica’s case; they quietly creep up and aren’t appropriately addressed.

 As a result, they are continuously adding insult. Dr. Robert Gotlin, Director of Orthopedic and Sports Rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center, says, “The most common injury we see in the kids playing on many teams is overuse, meaning a strain or a sprain. And the problem is many coaches and you know who you are think that the kid is ok, they will bounce back and they let them play and keep playing and that is the wrong answer, you have to pull them out and give them a chance to heal.”

It’s amazing how bad it can get. “I see nine year olds, ten year olds with ligament tiers, with disk herneations, with overuse injuries, their knees, they have trouble getting out of bed in the morning because their knees are sore, that never happened ten years ago, it really has gone hay wire,” states Dr. Gotlin. They are unheard of injuries--in large part because of simple overuse--or rather, abuse.

“This era of kids being over active of multiple sports kid, the travel team kid, three sports in one season, really wreaks havoc on the medical profession. What is happening is they are growing and as a child grows they need rest time, they need down time, they need time to let their bones, their muscles grow and they are not getting it, they are playing on teams three, four, five hours every day, five, six, seven days per week, and they have no time to be a kid, and kids need to be a kid, and it really bears a big burden on their growth,” argues Dr. Gotlin. 

So if your children are limping, if they throw the ball with less velocity, if they are walking with their back bent over, or they are rubbing their back a lot, Dr. Gotlin says you have to identify that there is a problem potentially and ask them to come out or pull them out of the game.


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