Author: Connor Ertz

Sports specialization and injury risk for young athletes

Kocher sports specialization Thriving blog

In recent years, sports specialization has become a hot topic amongst both parents of young athletes and medical professionals. There are a lot of questions swirling around early specialization: When should my child begin to focus on just one sport year-round? Are there injury risks associated with specialization? Does specializing in one sport provide a significant benefit for their skill development?

While answers to these questions aren’t always straightforward, in a recent study Dr. Mininder Kocher, an orthopedic surgeon and associate director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine Division, found some compelling evidence of the risks of early sports specialization.

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Football and family: Overcoming brachial plexus birth palsy

Brachial plexus patient plays football
(Photo credit: Ray Labbe)

Chase is only a few months away from fulfilling a lifelong dream; playing college football. It’s a dream thousands of other kids across the country will be living out this fall — but they aren’t like Chase.

“The first time I saw Chase was in 2000,” says Dr. Peter Waters, Orthopedic Surgeon-in-Chief and director of the Brachial Plexus Program at Boston Children’s. “He was six months old when his parents brought him in, and had a severe brachial plexus injury to his right side.” To correct this nerve injury that occurs during birth, Chase would undergo nerve surgery on his arm in 2001, and another two surgeries on his shoulder in 2003. He would continue to need life-long physical therapy as he grew and will always have limited use of his right arm.

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The PAO buddy system: Healing through connection

Leigh Lozano and Alyse Scanlon PAO patients Thriving lead image

For people with significant orthopedic hip conditions such as hip dysplasia, a periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) is a major surgery that can reduce or eliminate pain, while also increasing hip function. However, the post-op recovery and rehabilitation process can be long and sometimes painful.

“Recovery is an up and down process,” says Ariana Moccia, a nurse practitioner who works closely with patients in the Child and Young Adult Hip Preservation Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It’s important for patients to be able to share their frustrations and successes with somebody who really understands.” That’s why Ariana and orthopedic hip preservation surgeon Dr. Eduardo Novais have been working to connect prospective PAO patients with others who have already gone through the surgery.

Three of the patients who helped initiate the PAO “buddy system” at Boston Children’s share their experiences.

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Helping your child manage scoliosis and brace-wearing

Managing scoliosis Thriving blog lead image

For children and adolescents who are prescribed a brace to help correct their idiopathic scoliosis, it can be a long road to straightening their curve. Bracing takes commitment and patience, but the end goal is to correct a patient’s curved spine and avoid surgical treatment.

Dr. Michael Glotzbecker, an orthopedic surgeon in the Spinal Program at Boston Children’s Hospital Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center, and Deborah Cranford, a nurse at Boston Children’s who works closely with scoliosis patients, provide insights and tips on how parents can help their children better manage their scoliosis treatment.

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