Adolescent Injuries - Part 1

Participation in sporting activities has many obvious benefits to the growing human. However the adolescent population may be more susceptible to injury due to effects of growth on the body. 

We also often overlook the fact that injuries to children and adolescents differ greatly to that of a fully developed adult. Due to many factors, the types of injuries sustained and the management of these injuries differ to that of an adult. Unfortunately, there often can be long term consequences associated if not identified early and managed correctly.

Contributing factors:

  • Growing muscular and skeletal systems – Because of the nature of the growing skeleton, the bones and joints are extremely receptive to the stress and load put through them.  Furthermore, because of the difference in structure and make up of the developing bone it means that the types of injuries sustained can often differ to that of an adult.
  • Immature motor system- This leads to poor control of movements or coordination.
  • Immature sensory system – Leafing to reduced body awareness and balance.
  • Increased activity levels/load – The younger athlete often competes in more sport than the average adult due to participation in multiple sports in school and extracurricular.  This sometimes can be too much stress for the growing body to handle effectively. In addition we often forget that growth of the body is also load to the body we must consider.

There are also many psychological factors we must consider with the young athlete that often effect how they may respond to any given injury.

Psychological factors:

  • Lack of awareness of injury – Children and adolescents will have minimal experience of dealing with injury and therefore may interpret the information their body is relaying to them differently or incorrectly (eg. They may not register that they indeed have an injury).
  • Heightened emotional response to the injury – This can be due to many factors including hormonal changes, lack of knowledge of the situation and possible increased fear associated with the injury.
  • Lack of understanding of consequence – When making decisions young athletes often forget to consider possible consequences to their actions. This is no different when dealing with a possible injury and must be taking into consideration. Particularly when returning back to competition from an injury. 
  • Motivated by sporting goals/ambitions – Young athletes often are driven by potential goals their specific sport. This can often cloud their judgment when making rational decisions regarding their injury.