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Kids, sport and injuries.

Some of you may have caught a recent episode of Insight on SBS entitled "Kids' Sports Injuries" on Tuesday 5th March. It was an informative session interviewing kids, families, physios, doctors, coaches and professional athletes.

We see our fair share of kids with injuries or pain and it can be a really difficult task to provide a diagnosis, despite thorough assessment, and the factors that impact correct diagnosis were well discussed in the episode.

The program also revealed some alarming statistics around injury risk for kids, for girls, for high risk sports like football and netball - and the combined issues around young women playing football (putting all the risk factors in one place!!).

This was concerning for the kids being interviewed, many of whom were left wide-eyed at the realisation of their unique risk.

Here is a summary of the discussion:

  • Young children are presenting with adult injuries. (9 year olds having ACL ruptures)

  • High level repetitive over-training is a key factor - young bodies need lots of rest and recovery, and during growth spurts this is particularly important.

  • Why? - younger people are taller, bigger with larger BMI's so possibly increasing the load.

  • Younger people have reduced agility before they start organised sport, due to reduced free play.

ACL Injury

There has been a 74% increase in those Under 25 having ACL injury and subsequent repair. This increase is most marked in the 5-14 year olds. This results in an increase in the risk of early OA (Osteoarthritis). The sports with the highest ACL rupture risk are AFL and Netball.

Females and ACL Injury

Females are between 2-10x more likely than men to rupture their ACL ligament when playing similar sports.

The highest group at risk overall are Women playing AFL.


Females are at higher risk of concussion when compared to their male counterparts doing the same activities:

  • women had a higher rate of concussion across ALL sports in collegiate level in the US

  • women have a higher rate of ongoing symptoms and PCS (post concussion syndrome)

  • women with concussion are 2 x more likely to have ongoing cognitive and balance problems

  • women with concussion take much longer to recover from concussion.

It was suggested that this may be because young girls have 50% less neck strength and poorer neck control than boys.

Children's brains are also more susceptible to injury, and their heads are big in comparison to their bodies which means there is a biomechanical risk.

But overall, the good news is much of this risk can be mitigated by prevention strategies!!

  • 50-80% of ACL ruptures are preventable.

  • It can be as easy as 3 x 20 minute agility sessions per week, that can be used as a regular warm-up.

  • preventing ACL injury has the potential to save our health budget $100million.

  • Preventing lower limb injuries has the capacity to also reduce other injuries like concussion.

Barossa Physiotherapy is in the process of teaching local coaches and volunteers the programs they can use to help their players reduce their risk. If you are interested in having us visit your club or sporting group, or would like some individual advice, please contact us. We can also send information about the netball, soccer and AFL agility programs.

Some of the key advice we have is:

  • Seek early advice at the first signs of soreness to learn what is "sore but safe" and what injuries and pains require rest.

  • Encourage a variety of sports rather than one single sport

  • Ensure your child gets adequate sleep

  • Even the youngest toddlers and children can improve their agility through free play at playgrounds, parks and anywhere outdoors.

  • Any symptoms after a bump to the head should ALWAYS be investigated, and we have some reliable screening tools that can help decide if there is a concussion injury, and when it is safe to return to training and sport.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about these topics.

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