alarming increase in pediatric sports injuries called a ‘silent epidemic’
By Jim Forsyth
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The number of childhood and teenaged sports injuries is skyrocketing to the point where orthopaedic surgeons call it a ‘silent epidemic,’ and they say it is due to the ‘alarming trend’ of young kids participating in sports year round, 1200 WOAI news reports.
“It is certain something that we are seeing more frequently in the office nowadays,” says Dr. Casey Taber with the San Antonio Orthopaedic Group, the state’s leading practice for research and treatment into bone, muscular, and musculoskeletal injuries.
“They are using their bodies more than they probably should.”
Doctors worry that overuse and traumatic joint and extremity injuries among adolescents are setting them up for a ‘lifetime of chronic pain.’
A report released at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons this past weekend suggests ‘mandated downtimes’ for young athletes.
“More adolescents are participating in year-round sports without seasonal breaks,” the report says. “They are playing on multiple teams simultaneously. This increased exposure means there will continue to be growing numbers of significant musculoskeletal injuries, both traumatic and chronic overuse.”
Dr. Taber sees it in his clinic, and he doesn’t like what he sees.
“You are starting to see some injuries nowadays that we didn’t see years ago,” Dr. Taber says.
He says more and more, he encounters adolescents who are participating in year-round sports, and occasionally in several sports at once.
“They are using their bodies more than they probably should,” he said. “The only way to prevent that is to back off to some degree.”
He says parents need to be aware that even young, strong, and physically fit young people can suffer chronic injuries by overuse.
The report says ‘everyone wants to get to the top,’ but adds, “we have to look at this and say, are we pushing kids too hard? We cannot wait for kids to reach the college level to modify their training, because by that time, it could be too late.’
Orthopaedic surgeons point out that college and pro sports governing bodies regulate how much practice, when practice can begin, and how many sports people can participate in, but frequently, there is none of that regulation at the grade school and high school level, where the potential for lifelong damage is the greatest.