Sports Medicine and Athletic Injuries

In its most basic form, sports medicine is the care and treatment of active kids of all ages whether they're little leaguers, high school standouts, recreational exercisers or elite athletes. Somewhere between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, young athletes can develop conditions like runner’s knee, stress fractures, muscle sprains, shin splints, tennis elbow and concussions, to name a few. Parents shouldn’t be tempted to treat their young athlete’s injuries as they would their own. Your child’s growing bones, muscles, tendons and cartilage are more prone to injuries, which if left untreated, can lead to problems well into adulthood. That’s why it’s important for parents to be educated about sports injury care and prevention.

Sports injuries happen for a variety of reasons. They most commonly occur in organized, extracurricular or recreational sports programs. Kids and teens can experience injuries based on improper form or training, lack of proper gear or safety equipment, not warming up before exercise or stretching after exercise, and rapid growth during puberty.

There are two main types of sports injuries. The first kind, called an acute traumatic injury, involves a trauma from a single blow to an area of the body (like breaking a leg after being tackled in football). Acute traumatic injuries include the following:

The second type of sports injury is called an overuse or chronic injury. Chronic injuries are the result of repetitive training or overusing an area of the body over time. Pitchers may experience overuse injuries in their shoulders and tennis players may feel the pain in their forearms and elbows. Common overuse injuries include:

While acute injuries are serious, overuse injuries are no less important. Aches and pains in athletes are generally an indication that something needs a rest. Don’t let your teen ignore that aching in her wrist or that soreness in her shoulder. If left untreated, a chronic injury will probably get worse over time.

It was once thought that strength training (refers to the use of hand-held weights, weight machines and rubber resistance bands or tubes) was bad for growing children. However, research indicates that a well supervised, moderate intensity strength-training program is fine for children and teens. Since improper training can actually be harmful and cause injuries, finding a trainer who is certified in youth strength training is a good idea. Look for a trainer who is affiliated with a reputable accrediting organization.

Preparation and common sense go a long way in helping to prevent and avoid sports-related injuries. Here are some things you can do:

In a good sports medicine program, physicians, athletic trainers, physical therapists, nurse practitioners and dietitians work together to diagnose and treat injuries, as well as counsel patients on proper nutrition and training practices to prevent injury. Most will offer on-site testing equipment, full X-ray capabilities and the latest in exercise equipment to assist in patient care and in returning the athlete to competition.

Should your child experience a sports injury, Akron Children's Sports Medicine program offers children, teens and young adults complete care for all types of injuries and disorders of the bones, joints, muscles and spine in a spacious, modern and health club-like atmosphere. Features include a fully-equipped physical therapy and rehabilitation center; exam rooms equipped with flat screen monitors to display high-resolution digital X-rays; laboratory and casting services; sophisticated testing to help athletes train more effectively and reduce injuries; and sports medical evaluations and treatment for adults. For more information, call 330-543-3500 or 866-760-1950.

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