Children's Sports Injuries Can Be Prevented. (Trauma)

USA TODAY, February 2002 | Go to article overview

Children's Sports Injuries Can Be Prevented. (Trauma)


Each year, more than 1,400,000 youth under 15 are treated in doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, or emergency rooms for injuries related to basketball, football, baseball, hockey, and soccer, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports. "The number-one fallacy is that injuries are inherent, that they are going to happen no matter what you do," indicates orthopedic surgeon David H. Janda, director of the Institute for Preventive Sports Medicine, Ann Arbor, Mich., and author of The Awakening of a Surgeon, which features a 20-point checklist on preventing children's sports injuries. "The vast majority of injuries are completely preventable." Students should have preparticipation physical examinations and undergo conditioning and training exercises appropriate to their age, he stresses.

Among teenage female athletes who participate in sports that involve a lot of running, a common problem is pain in the kneecaps, notes Letha Griffin, a staff member of the Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic, Atlanta, and team orthopedist to Georgia State University. She explains that the condition arises about the time when young girls develop into young women. "Their hips widen, causing the thigh and leg to form an angle at the knee to slightly change instead of going straight up and down. Usually, they have not developed the complementary inside thigh muscle in order to help hold that kneecap more squarely in the groove of the femur or thigh bone and therein lies the problem. If we can get those girls before they get symptomatic and put them on good strengthening programs for their lower extremity and carry home the idea that, to play sports, one needs to exercise and condition, then we have taken a major step in trying to prevent sport injuries."

Sometimes, young athletes end any hopes of furthering their play because of injury. …

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