By: Marcus Walker, DPT
There is a common saying that floats through the sports world, “It’s not IF you get hurt, it’s when and how bad.” Injuries are an inevitable part of playing sports. Some statistics indicate that up to 90% of High School athletes report a sports related injury, with 54% having played THROUGH an injury.
As a parent, it’s extremely difficult to watch your student athlete get injured. To help put you at ease, we will be talking about when your child gets hurt, taking into consideration, how it happened and how it is being treated.
When Injuries Occur
Contact injuries are unavoidable – kids will fall, run into each other and unfortunately accidents happen. Athletes take risks playing sports and injuries are one of them. If the injury happens during a game, you need to understand how it’s being assessed. It’s important to let medical professionals evaluate, diagnose or treat the injured athlete as soon as possible. It may be right on the field by an Elite PT, team physician, or EMT. If not, your student athlete should be evaluated by a clinician after their game. Elite Physical Therapy regularly performs these assessments for student athletes in Cenla.
Sports injuries may also occur from muscle imbalance (from improper training/practice and movement) and compensations which can stem from your child keeping up with the demands of the sport. These types of injuries can also be diagnosed by a physical therapist.
Some injuries may feel like they are repeatedly happening and not fully healing. If it doesn’t seem like it came from part of the game or accident, there may be something else going on. The injury could be something straightforward like an overuse injury. A common treatment for overuse injuries is “active rest” to help the injured structures heal. If this type of injury goes untreated, a mild injury can quickly become major. It is recommended that the athlete’s mechanics be looked at, including how they are performing their sport-specific activity.
Multiple injuries may be related. For example, an athlete develops low ankle pain. They rest, heal, play, re-injure, and repeat. A few weeks later the athlete injures their knee. It may be bad luck but is recommended to be looked at to determine if there are one or more underlining imbalances in the body that may be contributing to both the knee and ankle injury.
Non-contact injuries often come from imbalances in the body and may be created as a result of insufficient training. A strength and conditioning Coach, Athletic Trainer, or even an Elite Physical Therapist can help in keeping young athletes ready for the rigors of sports.
How Injuries are Treated
A crucial question that parents should ask is how the injury is being treated. Elite staff can help you find the right care for your child’s injury. In fact, in some instances your school’s Coach or Athletic Trainer may ask to come to the appointment to support getting your student athlete back on the field. An Elite Physical Therapist can also recommend if the athlete’s injury should be treated by a doctor such as an orthopedic or neurologic physician.
If an athlete’s physician or Coach recommends Physical Therapy, it’s great to be involved in the treatment process! Ask educated questions such as:
Be sure to keep your child motivated throughout their therapy! Talk with the Physical Therapist, and strength and conditioning Coaches about how to prevent this injury from happening again. They are experts and have a wealth of knowledge working with athletes that may have experienced similar injuries. The mental and emotional impact of injuries can also be challenging for student athletes, especially injuries that need surgery. Regaining the confidence so they are physically and mentally ready to return to play can be difficult for a young athlete. It’s important to keep a strong support system around them including parents, trainers, physical or occupational therapists, and coaches that will help them to return to play!
A quote we often use with youth athletes, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” – Vince Lombardi.
Check out this VIDEO on how the team at Elite works with student athletes here in Cenla!
If your student athlete is experiencing a nagging pain or an injury, request an injury assessment with one of our experts today. Give us a call at Elite Physical Therapy at 318.443.3311.