Published on January 14, 2009
Sports Savvy : Sports Savvy Elbow and Shoulder Injuries Plaguing the Young Athlete Presenter: E. Lyle Cain, Jr., MD Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center American Sports Medicine Institute Birmingham, Alabama Why is this Important? : Why is this Important? 6 million U.S. children age 5-14 yrs play baseball or softball each year Since 2000, there has been a tremendous increase (5 to 6 times) in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries in youth baseball and softball players Why is this Important? : Why is this Important? Youth athletes ARE NOT the same as small ADULTS – injuries to cartilage growth plates can cause Permanent Damage Why is this Important? : Why is this Important? Almost EVERY family has a child at risk for injury in youth sports Overuse injuries are common in Gymnastics, Cheerleading, Swimming, Tennis, Soccer, Football and others Why is this Important? : Why is this Important? Recent Baseball study at ASMI 476 pitchers (age 9-14 yrs) followed 1 season 50% had elbow or shoulder pain Most required medical evaluation Overall healthcare expense ($$) related to injury is not known (6 million players - ? 50% pain/ year) Why? What’s New? : Why? What’s New? Emphasis on early sports specialization Kids are becoming “one-sport athletes” as early as 8 yrs old – promoting repetitive overuse of the same muscles and joints without enough rest between seasons Year-round baseball (recreational, travel, school teams) Seasonal overuse (too many throws per season – combining two leagues at the same time) Why? What’s New? : Why? What’s New? Emphasis on early sports specialization Event overuse (young arms are not made to throw the same number of pitches as the adult) Radar gun (emphasis on speed, not proper mechanics, “learning how to pitch”) Showcases (one day talent evaluations that encourage overuse) How do we Stop This? : How do we Stop This? EDUCATION of Parents, Athletes, Coaches RULES changes (USA Baseball 2006 Safety Guidelines – pitch counts to avoid overuse – adopted by Little League International in 2007) Encourage participation for FUN, discourage early specialization TREAT symptoms of problems/ injury EARLY- STOP throwing (or other causes of pain) How do we Stop This? : How do we Stop This? PREVENTION of injury Proper instruction on throwing mechanics Discourage the teaching of curve balls until high school (puberty) BAN the Radar Gun in youth sports Mandate a 3 month “rest-period” each year for throwing athletes “Tommy John” Elbow Surgery at ASMI : “Tommy John” Elbow Surgery at ASMI What Does the Future Hold? : What Does the Future Hold? Better prevention of injury – education, pitch counts, rules changes, biomechanics evaluations New surgical techniques are being evaluated to treat injuries – less invasive Important research continues at ASMI and others sites to help us understand the risk factors and reasons for injury In 2008, 50% of youth baseball players are having significant pain each year from a Recreational, Fun sport What Does the Future Hold? : What Does the Future Hold? Participation by more female athletes in competitive softball will lead to continued increases in the number of young women affected by injuries As we better understand these injuries, we hope to use this knowledge to prevent most overuse injuries in the next decade Further research is needed - by bringing more public awareness to these issues will we be able to help your readers and ultimately our patients.
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