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Kids in Sport—Great for Fitness, but Concern About Injurie

More than ever, children and adolescents are enjoying the health and social benefits of participating in organized sport. Yet many observers have noted problems related to// over-competitiveness and unrealistic expectations, while sport medicine physicians have seen alarming increases in sport-related injuries in young athletes. The November/December issue of the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine is a special Thematic Issue providing expert viewpoints on injuries to children in sport.

Although many commentators have voiced concerns about the pressures placed on young athletes by parents, coaches, and other adults, "no one seems to be backing down," according to Drs. Thomas M. Best, Willem van Mechelen, and Evert Verhagen, Guest Editors of the Thematic Issue. Even more disturbing is the trend toward increased overuse injuries in young athletes, which reflects a wide range of causative factors and may contribute to the growing number of children who drop out of sport by the eighth grade. "Although the scope of the injury problem and drop-out rate in the pediatric athlete is broad, we have tried to bring together expert views on what we feel to be some of the most important current problems and issues regarding injuries in the pediatric athlete," the Editors write.

Several articles in the Thematic Issue highlight the challenges of sport-related injuries in young athletes. For example, disruption of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee is a severe injury that is increasingly common in children and teens. A review draws attention to the lack of scientific data regarding the management of ACL injuries in young athletes: while nonsurgical treatment may lead to knee instability and further injuries, surgery may damage the still-growing skeleton. Injuries to the joint cartilage pose similar questions, although studies have reported promising results with a procedure called autologous chondrocyte implantation.

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