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July 11, 2013

Kids and sports: Playing it safe

(Continued)

ORTHOPEDIC INJURIES

Causes: Sprains, strains, growth-plate fractures (damage to areas of cartilage near the ends of developing bones), tendinitis and other injuries to bones, ligaments and joints can be caused by falls, but also by overtraining in one sport, not stretching properly and not giving the body time to rest between workouts.

"Kids are getting more overspecialized at an earlier age," said Laurel Blakemore, head of orthopedics at Children's National Medical Center. She added: "Specializing in one sport at too young an age can lead to injuries, along with burnout."

Jon Almquist, who recently retired as the athletic training program coordinator for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, agreed.

"Let the kid play sports to have fun playing sports instead of to boost the parent's ego," Almquist said. "Let them play different sports. Very few kids play sports to the point where they're going to be professional athletes."

Signs and symptoms: Swelling, limping, bruising and pain that is aggravated by activity are all possible signs of an injury. So is the inability to put weight on your knee or ankle.

Treatment: Most orthopedic injuries are treated successfully with rest, ice, compression, elevation, anti-inflammatory medication or physical therapy, Blakemore said. The child might have to wear a brace, boot or cast while the injury heals. Occasionally with a fracture or torn ligament, surgery is necessary.

Prevention: Proper training, including stretching, varying workouts and starting slow at the beginning of the season, is key to preventing many orthopedic injuries, Blakemore said.

Kayley Bogemann, 14, a sophomore at Centreville High School in Virginia, is working harder at prevention after a series of orthopedic injuries. Kayley plays club soccer and is on the cross-country and track teams at her school. She fell during a soccer game in 2011 and had reconstructive surgery on her ankle.

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