Numerous factors must be considered in protecting the health of athletes. Of fundamental importance to physicians are (1) the prepaticipation medical examination for authorization to enter a sports program, and (2) the prevention, recognition, and treatment of injuries incurred in sports. The purpose of this statement is to call attention to the subject of sports injuries so that pediatricians can take measures to protect their young patients and set up a system for diagnosing and treating athletic injuries.
Young athletes present special problems that are perhaps more familiar to pediatricians than to other physicians and supervisors of sports programs:
1. Their strength is not proportional to their size, resulting in wide differences in physical performance of individuals of the same age.
2. Young athletes are impatient about restrictions on activities, even when restrictions are necessay for the diagnosis and the healing of injuries.
3. Flexible ligamentous structures and open epiphyses result in susceptibility to musculoskeletal injuries that should have prompt evaluation and treatment.
4. Some children and adolescents have unrecognized congenital conditions that make them more susceptible to athletic injuries.
5. Young athletes usually lack motivation to work hard to condition their bodies for endurance, strength, and acclimatization to heat.
6. Many young athletes are disinterested and indifferent about the fitting, adjustment, and care of their protective equipment.
7. Young athletes in sports programs sponsored by schools or community agencies rarely have the benefit of supervision and advice from a qualified athletic trainer. The duties of an athletic trainer are usually assumed by a coach or parents, or by a physician who at times may be available only by telephone.
- Copyright © 1980 by the American Academy of Pediatrics