Stories about: Sports Medicine Division

Eliza’s story: Refocusing her athletic identity after multiple ACL tears

Eliza Hampsch Thriving lead image field hockey ACL sports psychology
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ELIZA HAMPSCH

When a high school athlete has designed their identity around a sport and the potential of a future in collegiate athletics, suffering an ACL tear can feel like the body’s ultimate betrayal. An ACL tear is a traumatic and painful injury that can leave an athlete on the sidelines for up to a year, seriously delaying any progress they might have been making in their sport. But multiple ACL tears, one right after the other, can be devastating for a promising high school athlete not only physically, but emotionally as well.

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Concussions: Prevention and recovery for soccer players

Dr. O'Brien concussions in soccer players thriving lead image
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PATRICK BIBBINS/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

As kids and teens get ready for the start of a new school year, many will be lacing up their cleats in anticipation of the coming soccer season. Playing soccer brings together all the benefits of rigorous exercise, fun with friends and an unlimited abundance of orange slices. However, participation also comes with the risk of injury.

Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury, are all too common in the soccer world. It’s clear that the protection mouth guards provide is far from sufficient for protecting your child from a concussion. So, if soccer’s protective equipment can’t keep players safe, what can?

Dr. Michael O’Brien, director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, helps athletes who have sustained concussions get back in the game and works with athletes to prevent sports injuries, including concussions. His advice to players, parents and coaches on what athletes can do to reduce the risks of concussions revolves around effective and clear communication.

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Nate’s All-Star recovery from an ACL tear

Nate, who had ACL reconstruction physeal sparing surgery, bats during a game

Just a few decades ago, a child tearing their ACL would lead to years of reduced activity and inability to participate in sports. Surgical reconstruction was not an option, given that the procedure required drilling through the growth plate, and would disrupt future growth in the child’s affected leg.

But in 1976, Lyle Micheli, MD, director of the Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital, pioneered a new growth plate-sparing ACL reconstruction procedure for growing children. Known as physeal-sparing ACL reconstruction, the procedure has been used to reconstruct ACLs in prepubescent kids at Boston Children’s ever since.

This is the procedure that Nate — a 12-year-old star baseball player at the time — underwent in 2013, after tearing his ACL playing football. Rather than rush into an ACL reconstruction surgery in their home state of Maine, Nate’s family researched the best ACL surgeons, and were ultimately referred to Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH, associate director of the Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s.

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What parents of musicians should know about upper extremity injuries

Andrea Bauer Thriving lead image nerve injuries upper extremity musicians

When it comes to orthopedic injuries, sports are usually talked about as high-risk activities, but it’s not often we consider the risk that musicians take when playing an instrument for hours every day.

Musicians can get overuse injuries the same way that athletes do, and are at risk for neck and back injuries, as well as shoulder strain. In particular, nerve injuries in the upper extremities are quite common amongst string instrument musicians, as they tend to hold their instruments in abnormal positions for long periods of time.

While parents may not think that their kid playing an instrument could come with potential injury hazards, these conditions can leave a child or young adult in pain and unable to play. Andrea Bauer, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in the Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program at Boston Children’s Hospital details how these injuries occur and what parents should look out for.

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