Managing Injury in Your Young Athlete
Whether deep in competition or conditioning in the off-season, parenting a student athlete is a yearlong routine. In the event of an injury, your child can face incredible pressure to return quickly to play. Because kids are still growing, young athletes are particularly susceptible to injuries and as a result, hasty treatment can have lasting effects later in life.
Teenage athletes commonly experience two types of injuries, acute and overuse. Proper conditioning, technique and equipment are a few ways to reduce the risk of either.
Acute Sports Injuries
Acute injuries are instances of sudden trauma in sport, such as sprains, strains, fractures and collisions. These may be as minor as contusions and bruises or as serious as concussions and fractures.
Concussions are considered mild traumatic brain injuries and occur when a head hits or is hit by an object with sudden force. Same day return to play is not recommended and for long-lasting symptoms, you may want to consider visiting a specialized concussion clinic.
Chronic Overuse Injuries
As the name suggests, overuse injuries often occur in muscles, ligaments, tendons, and growth plates that have been overstrained. Common examples are injuries of the shoulder from swimming, elbow from overhand pitching, wrist from gymnastics and shin splits or stress fractures from running. Returning to play too soon can increase an athlete’s likelihood of an acute injury.
Growth plate injuries, commonly known as Salter-Harris fractures, often result from overuse in contact and high impact sports. The growth plate is the cartilage at either end of bone and is particularly susceptible to injury in teens before it hardens into bone with age.
Athletic Injury Prevention
Your athlete can reduce the risk of injury through proper training and equipment. Consider these tips to keep your child healthy and active year-round:
- Gradually increase activity and fitness level if out of shape or season
- Practice proper technique and good sportsmanship
- Use the right equipment including shoes or safety gear
- Play one sport per season
- Take breaks from a main sport throughout the year to develop alternate skills and vary muscle use
Athletic injuries are an inherent risk of sports. With the proper treatment and recovery time, your child can return to play.