Doctors notice growing number of ACL injuries in young athletes

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POSTED: Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 1:00pm

UPDATED: Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 1:04pm

Doctors have noticed a growing number of ACL injuries in teens and adolescents over the last 10 years.

Andrew Timmons is a high school soccer player and currently in the final stages of recovering from an ACL surgery.

"I started when I was six. There were two seasons outdoor, so 24 seasons of outdoor plus multiple indoor seasons. We'd have three or four practices, we have two games and our practices are two or three hours each," said Timmons.

Doctor David Gray is the director of orthopedics at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth and he says the problem is that this kind of routine is becoming more and more common in younger athletes.

There is a lot of pressure in the select world to play one sport year 'round and you get a lot of repetitive trauma and use the same muscles over and over and you're more prone to injuries in general," said Gray.

"The epidemic in sports medicine nowadays is in the pre-teens," said T.O. Souryal, of Texas Sports Medicine and head team physician for the Dallas Mavericks.

As one of the country's utmost authorities on ACL injuries, he agrees, today's youth athlete is overdoing it.

"I think it's multifactorial, but primarily, because kids are playing too much, and it's a year round, multi-sports, there is never time to rest," said Souryal.

Doctors are coming up with new ways to operate on younger children but also have some advice for coaches or parents on how they can help prevent these injuries from happening.

"One of the things we'd like to see is children play more than one sport. There are some breaks. That you have different activities so you're using different muscles," said Dr. David gray.

"The performance clinics are good. Kids need to learn how to run properly and how to lift weights properly, but just like anything, excess is bad. I think it's always smart to have a break. Your body needs a break; your mind needs a break. Two or three months break is a wonderful prescription," T.O. Souryal said.

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