You may think that getting hurt is part of being a child.
In some cases, it is unavoidable. But skirting major injuries can keep kids from being sidelined while they're young and later in life.
As parents sign up their kids for spring sports, the most important question they can ask involves how to prevent injuries.
We asked an orthopedic surgeon his thoughts based on what he sees in the operating room year after year.
Dr. George Lebus specializes in orthopedic sports medicine. He has four tips for parents of young athletes:
1. Don't limit them to one sport. Data suggests single sport specialization leads to more overuse injuries especially in younger kids. Further, it could limit their performance later in life.
"When a child is playing a single sport, they basically are working on only one type of movement or one pattern of movement and are not able to fully develop from a neuromuscular standpoint as an overall athlete," said Lebus, orthopedic surgeon at Texas Health Fort Worth.
2. Maintaining good form makes all the difference.
"A lot of kids don't like the pre-season workouts or the in-season workouts, the weight training, etc., but these are actually the most important times to prevent injury," Lebus emphasized.
Encourage core stabilizing workouts and stretching to maintain flexibility.
3. Get enough rest! Studies show kids in puberty may be at a higher risk for bone injuries like stress fractures.
"When kids are growing, in that respect, it might be worth resting more and training less or altering training in that way," Lebus said. "Sometimes those things are out of parents hands, I understand, but that's one thing we know."
4. If your kids do get hurt, make sure they fully heal.
Avoid lingering injuries by taking time for rehab and those pre-participation physicals in order to get them back to playing as soon as possible in a safe way.
"The classic example is an ankle sprain," Lebus said. "A kid's ankle may feel great after they sprained it two months ago, but perhaps it's not quite as strong and doesn't have the proprioception that it needs to prevent from getting hurt in the future."
There is an assessment that can be done on teens if they've done rehab or to prevent injuries. It's called LEAP -- lower extremity assessment and performance. It can be done at most sports rehabilitation facilities.
So what is LEAP? According to the Texas Health Sports Medicine website, LEAP uses motion analysis system called Qualisys Motion Capture analyzes movement for research, clinical and sports performance purposes. Motion capture allows movements to be viewed and analyzed at a high rate of speed in order to detect subtle deficiencies not seen by the human eye. This 3-D motion analysis system studies an athlete’s movement in order to identify areas of weakness that may contribute to musculoskeletal dysfunction an decreased performance.
Retroreflective markers are attached to the body, and through sports-specific movements, allows cameras to create a 3-D model to be analyzed by a biomechanist and physical therapist in order to determine the risk of future (ACL) injury.
Sonia Azad completed a LEAP assessment two years ago and again in 2018. She shares her results and changes below:
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Curious how the assessment works? Check out some behind the scenes from Sonia's below:
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