Back to School, Back to Sports

As a parent, you appreciate how playing sports offers many benefits to youth and adults alike. You may have even been an athlete yourself and know how it raised your own self-esteem, created enduring friendships, taught teamwork, and commitment as well as a wonderful outlet for exuberant energy.

Unfortunately, injuries are an unavoidable part of sports participation. Injuries come in many forms, both physical and emotional. It is best to give your student good guidelines on staying safe to avoid injury that may disrupt sport participation but, more importantly, other activities of daily living and a psychological response.

Psychological response to injury can lead to sadness, a feeling of isolation, reduced motivation, frustration, and even disturbing sleeping and eating patterns. They are losing the ability to do something they love and possibly gave them a feeling of importance.

Physical injuries are on the rise just as participation in organized sports is on the rise. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nearly 30 million children and adolescents participate in youth sports in the United States.

If loving your child isn’t enough to motivate you to keep them safe with the proper gear, rest, and a balance of sports and outside of sports life, keep these CDC statistics in mind:

  • High school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries and 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.
  • More than 3.5 million kids under age 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year and are nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals.
  • On average the rate and severity of injury increases with a child’s age.
  • Overuse injuries are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle and high school students
  • 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice.
  • Injuries associated with participation in sports and recreational activities account for 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States.
  • Since 2000 there has been a fivefold increase in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players.

According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable. Yes, practice makes perfect, but one-third of parents do not have their children take the same safety precautions at practice that they would during a game. Keep this in mind for casual backyard play too. Helmets, padding, bracing, warm-up time…whatever it takes to keep them safe.

Some of the common injuries to be on the alert for:

Rotator Cuff Tear is a tear in the tissues connecting muscle to bone (tendons) around the shoulder joint and often occurs in people who repeatedly perform the same should motions over and over again. This is very common with more than 3 million cases per year. This requires a medical diagnosis and is treatable by a medical professional with medication, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, and possibly surgery.


Achilles tendon injury is very common, feeling like stiffness or burning in the part of your leg from the heel to your calf muscle. It is the largest tendon in your body. Achilles tendon injuries are common in people who do things where they quickly speed up, slow down, or pivot. Flat feet, insufficient pre-play stretching and even wearing high heels can make you more vulnerable. If your athlete experiences pain around the heel, take immediate action to avoid a more serious problem.  What could start out with a strain can easily become a tear which may require surgery if ignored,

Clavicle fracture is a break in the bone connecting the breastbone and shoulder also known as the collar bone. While not as common with fewer than 200,000 US cases per year, this also requires a critical medical diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional. Discounting symptoms can only make the injury worse.

Pulling them off the field if you suspect an injury is a wise decision.  The sooner an injury is attended to, the less severe it may end up being.

A visit to Dr. Marshall P. Allegra will help you choose the best option for you or your injured youth athlete.  He is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon in private practice in Monmouth County for over 25 years. As an experienced diagnostician, Dr. Allegra can expertly determine sports-induced injuries, and then determine the best treatment options to return your student back to the playing field, restoring functionality and range of motion as quickly as possible and avoiding long term implications.

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