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Keith J. Cronin, DPT, OCS, CSCS
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Youth Sports Injuries: Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

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The consequences of not wearing a proper baseball or football helmet can be head trauma that could possibly be permanent or even cause death. In response to the rise in these types of sports injuries, parents  wised up and there was a movement to ensure that all children have proper safety gear. As a result, injuries from head trauma and lack of safety equipment went down. Excellent work!

But the larger problem posed by the epidemic of youth sports injuries today is a little harder to fix. The problems of sports specialization at too young an age, over training, playing through injuries, and a society that feeds off of "there is no such thing as enough" attitude cannot be solved with better shoulder pads or education on hydration in hot weather.

The decrease in youth injuries due to poor equipment has been more than offset by the increase in repetitive and overuse injuries. These kinds of injuries usually develop over time (chronic injury) so that convincing a society to change its attitude is difficult. If your child gets a head injury (acute injury), you will immediately go to the doctor, get  a CT scan, and and get advice on how to minimize the risk of such an injury in the future.  But if your child complains of a sore arm, limps when he/she walks, or is a injury magnet, you might say, "Not enough preparation, let's get him/her into some more training sessions with the strength coach."

Do you know anyone whose teenager who has had surgery as a result of an overuse injury? Have you talked with them about what the doctor said they should have done? If you know anyone whose child has been severely hurt from playing and training too much, question them and find out how you can be a proactive sports parent to ensure the same doesn't happen to your young athlete.