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Study finds young athletes are more likely to get serious injuries

Head injuries in youth soccer up 1600% since 1990, study finds
Posted at 8:01 AM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 09:01:04-04

ATLANTA, Ga. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It's not about winning, but how you played the game. That's especially true when it comes to preventing sport injuries in kids. We have details on a study that found out why some young athletes are more likely to get serious injuries than others.

Sports are a great way to keep kids physically active.

"I've played pretty much every single sport besides volleyball," said Ruth Marsh.

"I've played soccer and done ballet," said Harmony Nix.

"I play all the sports," Kishan Jayanthi.

But more than a third of injuries in kids are sports-related. A researcher from Emory University looked at data from 1,200 young athletes over a three-year period and found that for kids under 12:

"Those that specialized were more likely, about one-and-a-half times likely, to report an injury," said Neeru Jayanthi, MD, Director of Tennis Medicine, Emory Sports Medicine Center.

When they start specializing too young,

"You have to acknowledge that their risk of injury and burnout is just higher," said Dr. Jayanthi.

The study also found that kids are playing organized sports twice as much as they're playing for fun, which can lead to overuse injuries. So what can parents do? Delay sport specialization until their child is 12.

"Encourage more seasonal participation, maybe have a three-month period where they're either taking off or resting," Dr. Jayanthi said.

Another thing is making sure your young athlete is training fewer hours per week than their age.

"So if you are like 14 years old, train less than 14 hours per week," said Dr. Jayanthi.

Proper warm-ups and cool downs are also critical.

"Especially as I get older and matches and everything is a little more intense, a little more physical, it's important to make sure your body can like keep up with that," Marsh said.

But the most important thing is just to have fun.

One interesting thing from the data that the researchers found was that kids from higher socioeconomic backgrounds actually reported more injuries than kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The researcher suggests that kids from higher socioeconomic backgrounds had more resources to play organized sports more often which could lead to more serious overuse injuries.