WHY ARE THERE SO MANY INJURIES TO OUR YOUNG ATHLETES? PROFESSIONALIZATION AND SPECIALIZATION IN YOUTH SPORTS

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY INJURIES TO OUR YOUNG ATHLETES? PROFESSIONALIZATION AND SPECIALIZATION IN YOUTH SPORTS

AMATEUR SPORTS SYMPOSIUM: THE DEATH OF AMATEURISM: IMPLICATIONS FOR SPORT AND HEALTH 

Parents and athletes feel the pressure now to compete at all costs.  Sports injuries to our youth are particularly important because minor youth sports injuries carry a significant risk factor for more severe injury during their youth and particularly during their adulthood.  Thirty to fifty percent of all youth sports injuries are secondary to overuse.  We've done a bunch of prevention studies in baseball in Birmingham at our research institute the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) and also at The Andrews Institute for Orthopedics & Sport Medicine in Pensacola.  A few of these studies include the effect of pitch type, pitch count, pitching mechanics, and the risk of elbow and shoulder pain in youth baseball players.  And again our motto is we're not trying to keep the kids out of sports; Our goal is to keep the kids out of the operating room and on the playing field.

What about this youth sport injury phenomenon? Well there are some 30 to 45 million young athletes in the United States participating in youth sports. For example, in youth baseball alone there are some twenty-five different sports organizations. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) show that sports are the leading cause of adolescence injuries. Young athletes are specializing in sports and positions, and a lot of times in multiple positions at an early age, with more than 3.5 million children under the age of fourteen treated annually for sports injuries. Immature bones, insufficient rest after injury, poor training, and conditioning contribute to these overuse injuries. Overuse injuries account for half of all sports injuries in middle school and high school; about 60% are all overuse. The reason that's important is if 60% of those are overuse, then most of those are preventable with common sense. Sports injuries to our youth are particularly important because minor youth sports injuries carry a significant risk factor for more severe injury during their youth and particularly during their adulthood. A lot of these injuries appear to be minor and are brushed over when they're twelve but when they're thirty, they are very significant. These injuries at an early age can contribute to long-term sequelae, such as posttraumatic arthritis. Needless to say, it's becomes a socioeconomic issue. The social issue is a lot of these youths drop out of school because they get injured in high school or they don't get to go to college. They wind up on the street, and from the street you know where they go. So it's an important issue in our country.

For the statistics, participation in organized sports is rising according to the National High School Athletic Association. There are over 7 million high school participants, up from 5.2 million ten years ago. It's almost equal now, in terms of the amount of boys and girls in high school athletics. This represents a tremendous rise in the sheer numbers of our youth participating in sports. That's particularly important to the young females, since Title IX. In most sports, young females are still injured four-to-one compared to males. High school athletics accounts for 2 million injuries annually, including 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations. Combined healthcare costs for the treatment of youth injuries in sports is approximately $ 2.5 billion a year.

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