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FOR YOUNG ATHLETES SPORTS ACTIVITIES CAN RESULT IN INJURIES, SOME MINOR, SOME SERIOUS AND SOME RESULTING IN LIFELONG MEDICAL PROBLEMS

Reasons for Concern
Young athletes are not merely small adults. Their bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing, which makes them more susceptible to injury.

Growth plates - the areas of developing cartilage where bone growth occurs in youngsters - are weaker than the nearby ligaments and tendons. What is often a bruise or sprain in an adult can be a potentially serious growth plate injury in a young athlete.

"Many injuries can be prevented if young people follow a regular conditioning program with incorporated exercises designed specifically for their chosen sport".

Types of Injuries
Injuries among young athletes fall into two basic categories:

Overuse Injuries
Acute Injuries

Both types include injuries to the soft tissues (muscles and ligaments) and bones.

Acute injuries are caused by a sudden trauma. Common acute injuries among young athletes include contusions (bruises), sprains (a partial or complete tear of a ligament), strains (a partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon) and fractures. But not all injuries are caused by a single, sudden twist, fall, or collision. A series of small injuries to immature bodies can cause minor fractures, minimal muscle tears, or progressive bone deformities, known as overuse injuries.

Other common overuse injuries occur in the heels and knees with tears in the tissue where tendons attach to the leg bone or the heel bone.

Impact sports have inherent dangers that put young athletes at special risk for severe injuries. Even with rigorous training and proper safety equipment, youngsters are at risk for severe injuries to the neck, spinal cord, and growth plates. However, following the rules of the game and using proper equipment can decrease these risks.

Diagnosis and Treatment
Young people often experience some discomfort with athletic activity. Their bones and muscles are growing, and their level of physical activity may increase with a sudden, intense interest in sports, so some aches and pains can be expected. Still, their complaints always deserve careful attention. Some injuries, if left untreated, can cause permanent damage and interfere with proper physical growth.

Whether an injury is acute or due to overuse, a young person who develops a symptom that persists or that affects his or her athletic performance should be examined by a Doctor who then may refer them to a specialist.


You should never be allowed or expected to "work through the pain."

Prompt treatment can often prevent a minor injury from becoming worse or causing permanent damage.

The basic treatment for many simple injuries is often "R.I.C.E."-Rest Ice Compression Elevation.

Treatment for a young person with any significant injury will usually involve specific recommendations for temporary or permanent adjustment in athletic activity.

Depending on the injury's severity, treatment may range from simple observation with minor changes in athletic level to a recommendation that the athletic activity be discontinued. Some combination of physical therapy, strengthening exercises, and bracing may also be prescribed.

Guidelines for Preventing Sports Injuries

Be in proper physical condition
Wear appropriate protective gear
Always warm up
Avoid continuing when very tired or in pain

Young athletes need proper training for sports
They should be encouraged to train for the sport rather than expecting the sport itself to get them into shape.

"Always warm up".

Many injuries can be prevented if young people follow a regular conditioning program with incorporated exercises designed specifically for their chosen sport.

A well-structured, closely supervised weight-training regimen may modestly help youngsters prepare for athletic activities.

A young athlete striving to meet the unrealistic expectations of others may ignore the warning signs of injury and continue to train with pain.

"I think for many people it has to be more personal... everybody's moving... I'm really happy for them... but too quickly, too fast, too easy, too much show... too much."
Stephane Vigroux

 

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