CINCINNATI—According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), youth sports injuries are on the rise—with pitching alone, surgeons are seeing more than four times the overuse injuries compared to five years ago.
To help address the overall increase, UC Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine has joined the AOSSM in a national campaign to help prevent sports-related injuries among young athletes.
The campaign—called STOP, which stands for Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention—will educate athletes, parents, trainers, coaches and health care providers about the rapid increase in youth sports injuries, and the necessary steps to help reverse the trend and the need to keep young athletes healthy.
"A 10-year-old tearing their ACL was previously unheard of, but now these once uncommon youth sports injuries are becoming an epidemic,” says Angelo Colosimo, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, assistant professor and director of sports medicine at UC Health.
Some of these injuries, says Colosimo, who is also the team physician for the University of Cincinnati (UC) Bearcats and the Cincinnati Bengals, will have permanent and devastating effects on the young athletes’ lives and careers.
Colosimo attributes the increase to sports specialization and overuse from year-round sports, along with parental and social pressures.
"These young athletes go from one sport to another year round without giving their bodies a chance to develop, heal and recover,” he says, adding "the time is right and it is our responsibility to make a major impact on education and prevention of these injuries.”
In fact, Colosimo and his UC Health colleague, assistant professor and orthopaedeic surgeon Keith Kenter, MD, are eager for the public awareness campaign to begin, as both volunteer as team physicians for elementary, junior high and high school teams in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
"We’ve seen firsthand what overtraining, overexertion, and disregard for all the red flags that signify an injury can do to a young athlete’s body” says Kenter, an assistant professor and state delegate to the AOSSM.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),more than half of the 7 million sports and recreation-related injuries that occur each year are sustained by youth between ages 5 and 24; and more than half of all sports injuries in children, experts say, are preventable.
The STOP Sports Injuries campaign highlights include teaching proper prevention techniques, discussing the need for open communication among everyone involved in young athletes’ lives and encouraging those affected to sign The Pledge. The campaign Web site and pledge are available at www.STOPSportsInjuries.org.
"Regardless of whether the athlete is a professional, an amateur, an Olympian or a young recreational athlete, the number of sports injuries is increasing—but the escalation of injuries in kids is the most alarming,” said James Andrews, MD, president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) and STOP Sports Injuries Co-Campaign Chair. "Armed with the correct information and tools, today’s young athletes can remain healthy, play safe and stay in the game for life.”
Supporting the STOP Sports Injuries campaign are the country’s leading sports medicine organizations along with professional athletes and business leaders who have signed on as members of the campaign’s Council of Champions. This council will help raise additional awareness about this growing epidemic of youth sports injuries. Some of the founding members of the council include former Olympic champions Christie Rampone, Eric Heiden and Bonnie Blair, professional golfer Jack Nicklaus, Pro Football Hall of Famers Bart Starr and Howie Long, retired major league baseball player John Smoltz and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
The STOP initiative is collaboration between the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association and Safe Kids USA.