New York, NY—March 22, 2006
Every spring more than 2.9 million children participate in Little League baseball and softball . The Sports Medicine Institute for Young Athletes at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery sees many injured young ball players every baseball season and emphasizes that child athletes must be treated differently than their adult counterparts.
"The conditioning and training of young athletes is not the same as that for adult athletes," according to Jordan Metzl, M.D., medical director of the Sports Medicine Institute for Young Athletes. "Winning isn't everything when it comes to kids. Therefore, parents must involve themselves in the health and safety of their children on the playing fields. They must aggressively protect their children from overuse injuries and physical damage that can result in lifelong disabilities," said Dr. Metzl, who is the author of The Young Athlete, A Sports Doctor's Complete Guide for Parents (Little Brown, 2002)."
The Little League organization has placed an emphasis on improving safety on its fields - including adding fence tops that protect players from exposed wire; ball returns that keep out-of-play balls off the field until players are ready to use them; and overhead screens to protect spectators. Yet more than 5,500 injuries still occur annually .
Hospital for Special Surgery offers the following tips for parents and coaches to help prevent injuries this baseball season:
Training and Conditioning Adolescents
Pitching Dos and Don'ts for Adolescents
"Parents and coaches should pay special attention to the pitching prowess of adolescents," said Dr. Metzl. "Professional pitchers who most likely enjoy long and successful careers are those who did not overwork their arms while they were still maturing." Therefore, parents and coaches should remember to:
Injury Early Warning Signs and Symptoms
Since young ball players are very enthusiastic about playing the game, they often do not report problems with their elbow or shoulder. Therefore, to help improve the chances of early diagnosis and treatment, parents and coaches must pay attention to a number of early warning signs of impending injuries:
Signs of Anabolic Steroid Use
Although much attention has been focused on major league baseball players using anabolic steroids, studies show that between seven and ten percent of adolescent athletes use anabolic steroids in the United States. Dr. Metzl advises that detecting anabolic steroid use is difficult. But the cardinal signs to watch for include:
Sports Facilities and Equipment
"Parents and coaches must remember that most super athletes are not born that way," Dr. Metzl added. "Their talents and aptitudes are developed properly over time. Super athletes did not always win their games while growing up."
Visit: Sports Medicine Institute for Young Athletes for more information.
About Hospital for Special Surgery
Founded in 1863, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is a world leader in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2007), and has received Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In the 2006 edition of HealthGrades' Hospital Quality in America Study, HSS received five-star ratings for clinical excellence in its specialties. A member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System and an affiliate of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, HSS provides orthopedic and rheumatologic patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. All Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are on the faculty of Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.