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Pediatric Overuse Injuries - Part 1

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Pediatric Overuse Injuries, Too Much of a Good Thing

By: Jacon C. Chun, MPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS
Director of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Sports Clinical Specialist
Elite Sports Physical Therapy

I remember in high school when we voted someone most athletic, they usually were good at more than one sport. It may have been a guy that played football, then basketball, then baseball. Or a girl that played soccer, then ran track. That, however, is becoming less common today and specialization is becoming the norm.

Kids are becoming dedicated to a particular sport at a younger age. They focus themselves year round on trying to be the best. They go from their high school team to the club team. They hope for a possible college scholarship and perhaps a professional career.

Along with year-round preparation and practice though, there are consequences- an alarming increase in overuse injuries. In the 2005-2006 school year, more than 1.4 million injuries were sustained by high school athletes. Most of these, could have been prevented with proper education and timely treatment.

The important thing to realize is that children are not little adults. Coaches need to be educated in the effects of overtraining on an immature musculoskeletal system. What worked for them and what is tradition, is not always in the best interest of the young athlete. With the evolution of science and medicine, training methods also need to evolve.

If you bend a piece of metal repetitively, it will eventually break at its weakest link. And that is what happens with an immature musculoskeletal system. Where adults can get tendinitis, strains, or ruptures at their weakest links, children can get traction apophysitis injuries. These are irritations to the growth plates because children have bones that are not completely fused. Injuries at these vulnerable sites produce inflammation, pain, and can stimulate bone growth.

Common sites for these types of injuries are: heels, shins, knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders. If your athletic child is experiencing pain in any of these areas, the best thing to do is set up an appointment with your physician to have them evaluated, so the proper course of treatment can be recommended. (I'll talk a little more about treatments in my next blog). And remember, just because a physical therapist says they treat sports injuries, doesn't mean they have direct experience in a sports setting.

Article Reprinted from with Permission of Elite Sports Physical Therapy

Many thanks to the Author Janson C Chun,MPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS

Jacon C. Chun is the Director of Physical Therapy/CEO of Elite Sports Physical Therapy (ESPT) in Fremont, CA. His vision in opening up ESPT in February 2006, was to provide the same level of care to the general public, that Jacon saw being given to professional and elite athletes at the intercollegiate, professional, and Olympic level. In two years, ESPT has developed into the premier sports and outpatient physical therapy in Fremont. Jacon also has the distinction of being the only Board Certified Sports Clinical Specialist in the area. He is a member of the APTA and serves on the volunteer medical staff of the United States Fencing Association.

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