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 Annual 2010

Annual 2010


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Sports Injuries

Keep Your Kid Safe on the Field

    Oakland resident Ashsa Smith was 16 when she suffered a painful anterior cruciate ligament tear in her knee during a soccer game.
ACL injuries, once thought to be primarily an adult injury, are becoming more commonly seen in pediatric programs such as the Sports Medicine Center for Young Athletes at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland.
     “Years ago sports injuries were primarily seen in high school and college athletes,” says Dr. Rebecca Demorest, associate medical director for the center. “Now it’s not uncommon to treat children as young as age 7.”
     Young female athletes like Smith are especially prone to ACL injuries if they play sports that require athletes to jump or pivot causing the ACL to tear.
     “I was playing in a soccer game and remember jumping to kick the ball and then being in a lot of pain,” Smith says. Her doctor recommended surgery followed by a rehabilitation program at the Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine Center where Smith worked with a physical therapy team three times a week for four months.
     “Our rehab program not only helps young athletes successfully return to sports, it also teaches them how to reduce the risk of future injuries,” Demorest says. “We emphasize how to properly warm-up before a game and give boys and girls exercises that can help with strength and endurance.”
     With the increased popularity of organized and club sports for children and more kids participating in sports on a year-round basis, Demorest says doctors are seeing a dramatic rise in the number of young athletes who have sustained injuries.
      According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 3.5 million young athletes get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities. More than 775,000 of these children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries caused by falls, collisions and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.
      “After going through the rehabilitation program, I am definitely more aware of how I play soccer,” says Smith, who is now 18 and playing soccer at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“At the suggestion of my physical therapist, I have also started doing a lot of stretching exercises both before and after I play in a game.”
      In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control published a study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine showing that the risk of potentially devastating ACL injuries can be reduced by a warm-up program that focuses on stretching, strengthening and improving balance and movements.
      While Smith’s injury required surgery, Demorest says that approximately 95 percent of the sports injuries she sees only require close monitoring and physical therapy that relieves pressure on the joints and prevents further injuries.
      “Some of the most common injuries we see are strains and sprains,” Demorest says. “We also see a lot of overuse injuries such as tendonitis, due to more children specializing in one sport at an earlier age and training year-round.”
While childhood sports injuries may be on the rise, Demorest notes that many injuries can be prevented by ensuring that your child wears the right gear, including appropriate sports shoes that fit, stretching before and after a game, participating in preseason conditioning and stopping game play if they are in pain.

Reduce Your Child’s Risk of Sports Injury

■    The National Center for Sports Safety offers an online course for $36 that teaches coaches how to prevent and treat sports injuries and respond to emergency situations at sportssafety.org.

■    The Santa Monica ACL Prevention Project developed a Prevent Injury, Enhance Performance program that is a highly specific, 15-minute training session that replaces a traditional warm-up. To download and print a copy of the PEP program, visit aclprevent.com/pep_replacement.htm.


     Consider enrolling your young athlete in a sports conditioning program. Bladium Sports and Fitness Club in Alameda offers a Speed School for middle school to college athletes
that improves speed, agility and performance. bladium.com

     The Sports Medicine Center for Young Athletes offers sports performance and injury prevention programs for young athletes.


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