Young athletes benefit from playing sports in a variety of ways — from better fitness and overall health to higher self-esteem and improved academic achievement. But with this participation comes the risk of injury.
While some injuries build up over time and cause pain that is often ignored, others may be random and unexpected. Dr. Dennis Kramer, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, explains what may put an athlete at risk for an overuse injury and how to minimize the risk of traumatic injuries, such as an ACL tear. …
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Aspiring football player Caleb Seymour dreams about playing for the New England Patriots. He idolizes Tom Brady and will be wearing his #12 jersey on Super Bowl Sunday. Three years ago, when Caleb was 8-years old, he forged a different bond with his hero. Caleb, like Brady, tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing football.
Caleb’s parents, Lisa and Michael Seymour of Holden, Maine, brought their son to Boston Children’s Hospital, where Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH, associate director of the sports medicine division, reconstructed Caleb’s torn ligament in November 2011.
But Caleb faced a long road—recovering from an ACL injury is a six-to-nine month process. It meant no football. It was tough to sit on the sidelines, says Caleb.
But Caleb got some special advice about rehabilitating his knee and preventing future ACL tears during a surprise visit from Tom Brady himself.
“He was so nice to me and motivated me to keep working hard on my knee and keep playing football,” says Caleb. “I know he will motivate his team to do good and WIN!!!”
Now, Caleb hopes to return the favor with some advice for other young athletes.
At 12 years old, Will McCarty loved basketball. His summer was planned out—basketball camp and tournament play would prep him for his seventh grade basketball team. Everything was going according to plan—until he stepped on a ball while making a layup.
“We thought it was a simple injury,” says his father Bill. A few days after the injury, he seemed fine. When he tried to run, though, his knee buckled. His parents took Will to his doctor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Manchester, N.H.
A few days later, after the swelling around Will’s knee went down, an MRI revealed a torn ACL. “It felt like a stunning diagnosis,” says Bill. An ACL tear is problematic in growing kids. That’s because ACL reconstruction requires surgeons to drill into the growth plate (the area at the end of the bone that produces new bone tissue and is responsible for bone growth). The surgery could interfere with future growth. Many surgeons recommend waiting until after puberty to perform the surgery.
“This isn’t a great alternative for growing kids,” says Mininder Kocher MD, MPH, associate director, Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital. “They remain at risk for injury with everyday activities, and with a torn ACL, they can’t play sports, which can negatively impact their emotional health.”
“Our doctor told us, ‘There’s a guy in Boston who’s the kingpin of ACL surgery for growing kids,’”recalls Bill. With that endorsement, the family made an appointment with Kocher. …
By Andrea Marx
It was a simple jump stop. It was an athletic move on the basketball court that I had performed countless times. But on July 19, 2010, the summer before my junior year of high school, a simple jump stop brought my athletic career to a screeching halt.
How could it happen to me? Since freshman year, I was a competitive three-varsity athlete in field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. I had set athletic goals that I wanted to accomplish before high school graduation.