Posted by: wockhardthospitals | August 3, 2009

Sports Injuries in Children and How to Prevent them

Why is exercise important?

Exercise may reduce the chances of obesity which is commonly seen in children. It may also lessen the risk of diabetes, a disease that is sometimes associated with a lack of exercise and poor eating habits. Children need to stay away from junk food. As a parent, it is important for you to match your children to the sport, and not push him or her

Image source:z.about, Click on the image to know about services at wockhardt hospitals.

Image source:z.about, Click on the image to know about services at wockhardt hospitals.

too hard into an activity that he or she may not like or be capable of doing. Sports also helps children build social skills and provides them with a general sense of well-being. Sports participation is an important part of learning how to build team skills.

Lower limb Injuries

When all sports are considered, the lower extremities are at an overall greater risk for injury than either central (back, neck, and head) or upper extremities. This is due to the emphasis of most sports on the lower extremities to provide locomotive power and speed to the entire body. This emphasis is seen in children’s sports participation, regardless of age. Active bone growth precedes muscle and tendon lengthening, requiring each muscle tendon unit to lengthen or stretch out to keep up with the bone growth. Limited muscle and tendon flexibility predisposes to increased overuse injuries in puberty. In addition, active growth causes subtle changes in the overall alignment of the lower extremity .Injuries of the lower extremity that are unique to or occur more frequently in children include the following: slipped capital femoral epiphysis, musculotendinous avulsions about the pelvis, distal femoral physeal fractures, avulsion of the cruciate ligaments, tibial eminence fractures, Osgood-Schlatter disease, Sinding-Larsen-Johansson disease, ankle sprains secondary to maturing tarsal coalition, and physeal injuries of the foot and ankle.

Upper Limb Injuries

Sports that require throwing or use of a racquet demand repetitive high stresses on the shoulder and elbow, increasing the risk of injury in those areas .These injuries include proximal humeral physeal injuries, ligamentous laxity of the shoulder, medial collateral ligament injuries of the elbow, avulsion of the medial epicondyle of the elbow, osteochondritis dissecans, and radial head overgrowth. Children who weight lift with excessive weight may also develop physeal injury.

Central Body

Sports or sports positions that demand repetitive low back extension, such as gymnastics, cheerleading, can cause low back pain, muscle strains, and spondylolysis. Baseball is the only team sport found to have a “maximal” risk for head and spine injury in young athletes, more so because of the severity of these injuries associated with the sport than because of their incidence.

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries occur from the repetitive application of submaximal stresses to otherwise normal tissues. This type of injury is more prevalent in the setting of organized sports, compared with backyard or pick-up games or purely recreational activities, especially in elite child athlete programs. Overtraining and exposure to excessive levels of physical activity can present an increased risk of injury. If not managed properly and efficiently, overuse injuries can affect normal physical growth and maturation. Prevention is the key; gradual rather than sudden increases in stresses and intensity can usually avoid physical breakdown.

Stress fractures are a form of overuse injury, and they occur most frequently in the tibia, fibula, and pars interarticularis in young athletes. Stress fracture occurs when the bone itself becomes overstressed and begins to fail. Pain with impact or activity is the primary complaint .If identified early, the progressive inflexibility associated with growth can be overcome with a stretching program, which should reduce the risk of overuse injuries .Periostitis, also known as “shin splints,” is an overuse injury that occurs in athletes involved in ballistic activities and those that involve rapid deceleration. It may be caused by a strain of the anterior or posterior tibialis muscles at their tibial origin. Pain is usually diffuse and less focal than that of stress fracture .

The athlete with open physeal plates is less susceptible to ligament and muscle-tendon injuries than to avulsion fractures and growth plate injuries. Nevertheless, strains and sprains, and more commonly contusions, do occur in the young athlete .

How to prevent injuries in Children

  • Maintain proper physical conditioning to play the sport.

  • Know and abide by the rules of the sport.

  • Wear appropriate protective gear (for example, shin guards for soccer, pads and Abdominal guard in Cricket ).

  • Know how to use athletic equipment.

  • Always warm up before playing.

  • Avoid playing when very tired or in pain.

  • Get a pre-season physical examination.

  • Make sure there is adequate water or other liquids to maintain proper hydration during training and while playing.

  • If symptoms persist consult your Sports Medicine Doctor Immediately


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