Injuries On the Rise/Are Kids Leaving Sports?

Interesting story from the ABC affiliate in Tampa, FL.  Seems obvious but there isn’t a lot of talk about this:  as a result of nutrition and health care, genetics, early sports training and conditioning, kids are bigger than the used to be at the same age.

This leads to lots of different things – including the potential for more injuries on the field.  They also report some interesting information about the lack of support in some communities.  According to the article, only about a third of the nation’s high schools with a sports program have a full time athletic trainer – mainly because of cost.  In addition, professional medical help for youth sports in a community often follows the availability of certified trainers in the local schools.

Sometimes we forget how good we really do have it here in Fairfax County.

There was another interesting nugget buried in the story:  Researchers found that about 9% fewer 7 to 17 year olds were taking part in the top five sports in 2007 than in 1997.

There’s nothing that explains this in the research.  Are kids dropping out and/or not starting a sport?  Or are there so many different sports options that they are doing something other than a top five sport?  At first glance I assumed there were more choices.  But I wonder if there really are that many choices in communities that can’t even afford a full time athletic trainer.

Lacrosse Game With A Lot of Meaning

We sometimes hear too much about what is wrong with youth sports.  Even more, I often hear complaints about governing bodies that seem more focused on their rules than they are on doing what is right.  It’s absolutely true that we need the rules to make help govern how we do things.  However, this story out of Florida helps understand why the rule book sometimes needs to be tossed out the window. 

Major props to Winter Springs High School and especially the Florida High School Activities Association who gave the thumbs up to a dying man’s wish in less than half an hour.

Read the story about how a father dying of lung cancer got to see his daughter play on the high school lacrosse team for the first and only time.  It’s worth it.

Is Surgery the Best Option for ACL Injuries?

The New York Times has a good health blog that covers lots of topics.  Earlier this month they posted an interesting story about a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  The study examined whether surgery or physical rehabilitation is the best treatment for ACL injuries.

From the Times’ blog:

The findings suggest, the authors concluded, that “more than half the A.C.L. reconstructions” currently being conducted on injured knees “could be avoided without adversely affecting outcomes.”

It’s worth reading the whole blog entry.

Concussions in Youth Sports

There continues to be a lot of talk about concussions in sports.  I written about some of the new programs before.

I read this article from a father/youth sports enthusiast/neurosurgeon with great interest.  His conclusion really made me think:

Often young players and their parents don’t want to take my advice. They want their child to play – in spite of a lingering headache, in spite of an injury to their growing brain. I understand. Remember, I love sports as much as the next guy. But I have a rule for my own boys. If either one suffers a concussion at this tender age, he’s done with football. The risk for future complications is too great. That’s their dad, the neurosurgeon and sports lover, speaking.

Debate over Metal Bats

Baseball is a relatively safe sport. There were 52 catastrophic injuries from 1983 to 2009.  There were 43 in football in 2008 alone.

However, there is a move to regulate and potentially ban metal bats from High School and youth baseball.  There are some scary stories about injuries that some believe are linked to these bats.  USA Today has an interesting story about the controversy.

Youth Sports Tournaments – Girls Generate More Money?

I have always been conflicted about youth sports tournaments.  On the one hand I think it is a great chance for kids to play some more.  On the other hand, they can often become far too intense and there are questions in some sports about whether kids should play so many games in such a compressed time.

Another thing is happening.  Youth sports tournaments are becoming major money makers.  A reader sent me this article from last year’s New York Times.  One interesting note:

As the popularity of youth tournaments has intensified over the past decade, a peculiar trend has emerged: girls’ sporting events tend to attract more relatives and generate more revenue for tourism than similar events for boys. And that is drawing increased attention from economic development officials.

Overuse Causing Injuries in Youth Sports

There’s an interesting article in The Record about the danger of kids getting hurt through overuse of the same bones, muscles and joints.  Doctors are seeing more of these types of injuries and believe that overuse is a major cause.  It is worth reading the whole thing.

[Doctors say that young athletes need] rest for the bones, muscles and joints that suffer the most abuse in the body of an athlete who plays the same sport with intense frequency. A pitcher’s arm, a tennis player’s shoulder, a basketball player’s knees — these are all the body parts that show signs of wear by the end of a season, Bottiglieri says. If the season never ends, that wear can soon become a tear.

“A professional athlete has an off season, but too many kids playing sports these days do not,” Bottiglieri said. “They are playing year-round and they are not giving their muscles time to rest and recover.”