According to a health news feature from Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, sports injuries linked to overuse are becoming more common in younger athletes. Specialization plays a key role, says Matthew Silvis, MD, medical director for primary care sports medicine at Penn State Hershey.

In the story, Silvis points out, “It has been a kind of societal thing that kids are specializing in one sport at the exclusion of others at a younger age. The specialization is often driven by parents who believe that their child has to start early and stay serious in order to get a scholarship or be the best.”

Silvis adds that many college and professional athletes did not specialize when they were younger. Rather, “They were just really good at sports in general.” Silvis says his best advice to parents and young athletes is to engage in multiple activities.

The feature reports that education in preventing and recognizing overuse injuries is also vital. Unlike a trauma injury, overuse injuries may not get diagnosed or treated as soon as they could.

Silvis also notes that surgical options to repair such injuries with younger athletes are limited because of their open growth plates. Surgical fixes can also lead to the potential for future arthritis, the feature says.

USA Youth Baseball is spotlighted by Silvis as an example of an organization that is offering recommendations and guidelines to decrease the likelihood of overuse injuries.

Additionally, the feature states that certain mobile device apps can help calculate how many pitches and rest days an athlete should have based on his or her age. The apps can also provide tips for preseason preparation and pregame warm-ups.

Access to information is not the issue, Silvis says. It is listening to it.

“If a kid ends up getting burned out or injured, they are no longer having fun. We all need to remember that the number one reason kids play sports is to have fun,” Silvis emphasizes.

[Source(s): Science Daily, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center]