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More Kids Falling Prey to Sports Overuse Injuries
Date:4/9/2010

account for an estimated 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations every year. And orthopedic surgeons are now seeing two trends: a rapid increase in the number of youth sports injuries and a drop in the age of young athletes with overuse injuries. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, every year more than 3.5 million children age 14 and younger are treated for sports injuries, the campaign said.

Children and teens playing sports can sustain two types of injuries: acute injuries and overuse injuries, according to the campaign. Acute injuries are the more obvious injuries that occur from a single trauma, such as getting hit with a baseball or breaking a bone. Overuse injuries occur over time from repeating the same motion over and over again. Tennis elbow is an example of an overuse injury.

And, parents and coaches may not always realize that an overuse injury has occurred. Kids just want to keep playing and may not mention it. "Kids have no barometer for when they should stop. They're just not able enough to listen to their bodies yet. They'd rather be out in the field playing," Smoltz said.

Signs that parents should look for that might indicate an overuse injury include:

  • Favoring one side of the body over the other.
  • Appearing to be in pain when using a certain body part.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Headaches.
  • Stiffness in muscles or joints.

"Parents need to get involved and to listen to their kids. They also need to be knowledgeable about their child's sports and what the risks are," advised Andrews. He said parents also need to realize that a minor injury when a child is young can lead to a major one as the child grows older. He said he's seeing a lot of kids in his practice who have adult-type injuries, and are requiring extensive reconstructive surgeries before they're even out of high school.

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