Dr. Michael Kelly, chairman of the department of orthopaedic surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, said that while it's a lot healthier for the body to "cross train" with different sports, many kids today focus on just one sport.
"It used to be that you played football and, when that was done, you might play basketball, and then later, you might play Little League or tennis. You went from sport to sport and didn't have any sport-specific training to contribute to repetitive injuries," Kelly said.
Children are particularly susceptible to repetitive injuries, because they're still growing. Both Kelly and LaBella said children are most vulnerable to injuries in the growth-plate areas. Growth plates are soft areas of developing tissue. They're found at the end of the long bones and, because these areas are still growing, the bone isn't completely calcified in that area.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, growth-plate injuries are fractures, and they account for 15 percent of all childhood fractures. They occur twice as often in boys as in girls, with the greatest incidence among 14- to 16-year-old boys and 11- to 13-year-old girls.
So, does that mean parents shouldn't let their children play the sports they love? Not necessarily, said Kelly. But, parents do need to be willing to be the bad guy, especially if their child gets injured.
"Kids are always going to push, and they're always going to want to play. Even when hurt, a child probably won't make the right decision," said Kelly, adding that it's up to the parent to stop the child from playing if there's an injury.
Kelly acknowledged that that can be tough, particularly with high school-aged children who may have college scholarships riding on their ability to play. "I make it clear to parents that they can keep the next six months in mind, but they need
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