A watchful eye on sports injuries

Spring means baseball. And with baseball — and many other sports — it also means parents need to keep a watchful eye open for injuries in their young athletes.

Dr. Caitlyn Mooney, a pediatrician with University Medicine Associates, urges parents to take sports injuries seriously. Kids can have special issues when it comes to injuries. They also need plenty of time to heal.

With children specializing in a specific sport at an early age, they run the risk of injuries from overuse. In baseball, that might mean a pitcher not resting an arm.

Running and jumping can lead to more than just a strain. In children, injuries to the growth plate in the leg can cause an uneven gait over time.

Girls are more prone to ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries of the knee. “They land differently than a boy from a jump,” Dr. Mooney told KENS5 News.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a few recommendations for preventing and managing injuries.

  • Players should wear appropriate protective equipment such as pads, helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups and eyewear.
  • Athletes should do stretching exercises before and after games to increase flexibility of muscles and ligaments.
  • They also should do conditioning exercises during practice and before games to strengthen muscles.
  • Proper technique should be enforced throughout the season of play.
  • Athletes should take rest periods during practice and games to reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
  • The AAP stresses the importance of paying attention to overuse injuries, overtraining and burnout.

Kids might also feel pressure to play through injuries, making the damage worse.

“Sometimes children feel very at risk for their position, or their tryout for that team,” Dr. Mooney said. “They feel if they say they have an injury, they’re going to be put on JV (junior varsity) for the year.”

The complete interview with Dr. Mooney, part of the Real Men Wear Gowns series on men’s health issues — a partnership between University Health and KENS — can be viewed here.

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