There has been a drastic shift in the landscape of youth sports in America. Today, young athletes often begin their competitive careers at age 7, with some children participating in organized athletic activities as early as age 4. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2.6 million children ages 0 to 19 are treated in the emergency department each year for sports and recreation-related injuries. The most common types of sport-related injuries among children are muscle strains, sprains, growth-plate injuries and repetitive motion injuries.
In response to the dramatic rise in pediatric sports injuries, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City is uniquely prepared to meet the demand with its sports injury service lines. Whether an injury is acute or due to overuse, a child who develops a symptom that persists or that affects athletic performance should be examined by pediatric orthopaedic specialists.
“The skeleton in a child is growing, making children distinctly different from adults when it comes to sports injuries and fractures,” said orthopaedic surgeon Theresa Hennessey, M.D. “In pediatric orthopaedics, we take care of children all the time, and are truly the experts in pediatric musculoskeletal care. Children also heal faster, better, and in a unique way. If a treating physician does not understand a child’s skeleton, they may be told to have surgery when it’s not needed, or not to have surgery when it is necessary.”
At Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City, children will find expert care to treat orthopaedic sports injuries including stable fractures, ligament injuries (ACL), cartilage/meniscus injuries, severe sprains and overuse injuries.
Healing growth plate injuries
The long bones in a child’s body grow outward, from each end. The softer pieces of developing cartilage tissue that the bones grow through are called physis or growth plates, which help define the length and shape of the bone. Growth plate fractures are common, making up 15 percent to 30 percent of all fractures in children. Common areas for these fractures are the lower legs, wrists and fingers. Growth plate-associated stress fractures can be seen with chronic overuse, such as in gymnasts and baseball pitchers and often occur from acute trauma. It is very important that children seek care from a pediatric orthopaedic doctor if there is a growth plate fracture. With proper treatment, most growth plate fractures heal without complications.
Seeking fracture care
Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City provides treatment of a child’s broken bone through splinting, casting, reduction and realignment, surgery, post-fracture follow-up or rehabilitation. The Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital does not have an emergency room. An appointment should be scheduled after the child’s fracture has been stabilized by an emergency room, urgent care or primary care provider.
Prompt treatment of sports-related injuries and fractures by a pediatric specialist can prevent further orthopaedic-related complications. To refer a patient, call 800-314-4283.