According to reports, in the United States, approximately 30 million children and teens take part in some form of organized sports and about 3.5 million sustain injuries each year. While many injuries happen as a result of forceful falls, being struck by a heavy object, strong collisions and overexertion during informal sports activities, the most common injuries are sprains and strains. It has been estimated that about 60 percent of organized sports-related injuries usually happen during practice.
Sports injuries may range from small scrapes and bruises to complicated brain and spinal cord injuries. However, the common types of sports injuries in children could be classified as acute injuries, overuse injuries, and re-injuries.
Acute injuries often occur suddenly and are generally associated with some form of trauma. In younger children, acute injuries usually include minor bruises, sprains, and strains. In teen athletes, the injuries could be more severe including broken bones and torn ligaments.
Some of the severe acute injuries that can occur, irrespective of age, include eye injuries such as scratched corneas and detached retinas; broken bones or ligament injuries; brain injuries, such as skull fractures, brain hemorrhages and spinal cord injuries. Acute injuries often happen due to lack of proper equipment such as protective eye-wear, immobile bases etc.
Overuse injuries usually occur from repetitive actions that put too much pressure on the bones and muscles. Kids who are actively involved in sports activities are more likely to develop an overuse injury. The most common types of overuse injuries are: Anterior knee pain, Little League elbow, Swimmer’s shoulder, Shin splints and Spondylosis.
Overuse injuries could be caused or aggravated by:
- An imbalance between strength and flexibility
- insufficient warm-up
- Excessive activity
- Playing the same sport throughout the year or playing multiple sports during the same season
- Improper techniques used in playing
- Unsuitable equipment used in playing such as non-supportive athletic shoes
Re-injury happens when an athlete returns to sports activities even before a previous injury has adequately healed. In most cases, athletes are at a greater risk for re-injury when they return to the game before completely recovery. This adds more stress upon the injury which could subsequently put the athlete at greater risk for injuring another part of his body.
Re-injury could be avoided by allowing an injury to fully heal. Sudden exertion can also result in re-injury. Hence, your child should make a reentry to the sport gradually.