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A focus on the growing athlete

teen sports medicineYouth doesn't mean invincibility, especially when it comes to athletics. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young athletes account for 7 million sports- and recreation-related injuries each year. A recent article in Stanford Medicine News highlights two Stanford Children's Health programs designed to help prevent these injuries: the newly developed Young Athletes Academy and the Pediatric Motion and Sports Performance Lab. From the piece:

The Young Athletes Academy's team of physicians, physical therapists and athletic trainers visits area high schools to work directly with students and coaches in injury prevention and treatment.

A prime focus of the academy is to prevent youths from sustaining anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, one of the most common knee injuries in sports--and one showing an alarming rise among young girls. The team hopes to reduce the rate of ACL injuries--which can bring an athlete's season to an abrupt end--by identifying risk factors early and implementing a therapy plan using motion analysis to improve joint alignment, as well as biomechanics. In addition, the academy offers screenings for overtraining and burnout, consultations on nutrition and the female athlete triad (three distinct and interrelated conditions), and comprehensive concussion management.

Meanwhile, the Pediatric Motion and Sports Performance Lab, which will be launched this coming May, will provide better, and larger, facilities to researchers who are studying movement in young athletes.

"There's a lot of research in the area of sports performance and athletics, but most of it focuses on mature athletes," Charles Chan, MD, says in the article. "Stanford physicians, scientists and care teams would like to change that by focusing on the growing athlete."

"For a long time, we treated injuries to children as if they were small adults," he continued. "Now, we're much more specialized and armed with innovative surgical techniques for reconstruction. With the new Performance Lab opening soon, we also will be able to use the latest motion analysis to determine when it's safe to clear a growing athlete back to his or her sport."

Previously: Female high-school athletes suffer more overuse injuries than their male counterparts and Helping to prevent ACL tears in young athletes
Photo of Charles Chan treating a young athlete, courtesy of Stanford Children's Health

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