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Roy Trawick, M.D.: “We'll see kids that are actually skeletally immature, open growth plates in their bones, real children 10,11, 12 years old with an ACL tear.”
Doctors are seeing more young children with injuries that used to only happen to adults over the age of 30. They're calling them "over-use" injuries.
The term "over-use" mean just that -- kids are over-using certain parts of their young bodies, leading to some horrific injuries. Injuries that will at least nag them the rest of their lives.
Look in any physical therapy room these days and chances are the faces in them will look a lot younger. Exercises once reserved for aging major leaguers are now consuming the life of teens. One we spoke with is suffering with an "over-use" shoulder injury.
Doctors say too many kids are spending too much time playing just one sport and over-working the same muscles. It's damaging to their still developing bodies.
Roy Trawick, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon: “It's not kids playing little league, playing a dozen games. It's kids playing in two or three leagues during the summer, traveling for tournaments, playing competitively every day of the week.”
And it's the very thing that did 16-year old Chelsea Sandburg in, focusing too hard on just volleyball, hoping to one day get a college scholarship.
Chelsea Sandburg, Injured Athelete: “Me and this girl next to me were blocking. I just came down on it wrong and it popped. I just fell to the ground.”
What popped was her ACL, a crucial ligament in her knee allowing her to move sideways. But all too often with gung-ho young atheletes, instead of instantly feeling the pain, they're thinking...
Chelsea Sandburg: “I wasn't going to play volley ball again.”
The same thought that's usually running through the minds of their parents.
Lori Sandburg, Mother of Injured Athlete: “She went down and we just thought, 'Oh, she hasn't even started her junior year, and this is the year that the colleges look at you.'”
Roy Trawick, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon: “I want to shake the parents more often than I want to shake the kids. I think there's a lot of pressure on the part of parents to push their kids to excel at a very young ange.”
That pressure is landing many kids in Trawick's office. He says he often sees stress fractures, growth plate disorders, and cracked knee caps resulting from this over-aggressive culture of organized sports.
He says the best thing parents can do is listen when their young kids complain of pain. It may be early enough to prevent them from ending up in his office.
Doctors say most young athletes they see in their offices come from two sports--gymnastics and baseball. They spend a lot of time treating young pitchers, who they say are generally pitching every day of the week.