Children and adolescents often play sports year-round, which increases the likelihood of sports-related injuries. But, unlike adults, children’s bodies are still developing and need specialized care to prevent growth issues.
By Dr. Jorge Gomez, Dr. Megan May, and Dr. Scott McKay
During the fall sports season, we see a number of injuries from a variety of sports, including the usual suspects—football, volleyball, basketball and track. We also see a lot of injuries from ballet dancers, gymnasts and cheerleaders too, which comes as a surprise to many families. Some of the most common injuries we see in the Sports Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus include concussions, pulled muscles, shoulder injuries, sprains, Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears and exercise-induced asthma.
It’s imperative that all athletes wear the recommended protective head gear for their sport to help prevent concussions, especially when participating in full-contact sports. Concussions are very common, especially among student athletes, and are the most common head injury. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect any type of head injury has occurred. Symptoms to watch for include pain, nausea, dizziness, a change of consciousness and slurred speech. If you suspect a concussion, try and keep the athlete very still, and ask simple questions like “What is today’s date?” or “What’s your name?” to help determine the severity of the head injury and keep the victim awake. Be sure to follow up with a medical specialist.
Because a child’s bones, muscles, brain and other organs are different than those of an adult, children respond much differently to injuries, stress and athletic training, and they require comprehensive, specialized treatment.
For instance, consider when student athletes sustain ACL tears, a common injury in both youth and adult athletes. If it’s determined that the ACL is in fact torn, the medical team will determine if reconstructive surgery is the best option for your child. Unlike adults, a child or adolescent who sustains an ACL injury needs to have additional factors, including age and skeletal maturity, taken into account by the medical team before determining the most appropriate course of action. It is important that your child receive treatment by experts with special experience working with young athletes, as their current and future growth and development need to be factored in when the treatment and rehabilitation plan is being determined.
For ACL injuries in general, it is important to be sure to take immediate action. If there is a possibility that the ACL has been impacted, the athlete should immediately rest, use ice and compression and elevate the leg. Get medical attention as soon as possible to evaluate the extent of the damage. Anti-inflammatory medications such as Motrin, ibuprofen or Aspirin will help with the pain and swelling.
Dr. Jorge Gomez is a primary care sports medicine physician, Dr. Megan May is a sports medicine and pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Scott McKay is a sports medicine and pediatric orthopedic surgeon, all with the Sports Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.
About Our New Facility
Texas Children’s Hospital recently opened a new 28,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art sports medicine facility at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus that houses a 3,000-square foot gym, two x-ray rooms, three casting rooms and 16 exam rooms for seamless, patient-centered service. The new space houses advanced technologies, including robotic dynamometry for isokinetic testing, motion recording and analysis to enhance rehabilitation.