Is sports physical therapy just for kids and teens important? In a word, yes. Pediatric sports physical therapists (PTs) are specialists in child and teen recovery—helping these athletes get back in the game quickly and safely.
We all take pride in the sports accomplishments of our children and teens. However, their growing bodies are also prone to injury.
Common reasons for youth sports injuries are numerous and include:
- Poor training – Proper training is critical.
- Overuse – Constant movement can strain developing bodies.
- Improper technique – Good form while playing sports means safer play.
- External factors – The wrong equipment and improper surfaces can lead to an injury.
Kids and teens often play a variety of sports, some experts say too many, at high levels of competition while their bodies are still maturing. That’s why it’s so very important to have a pediatrician perform sports physicals. And why, when injuries do occur, the healing process should include sports physical therapy designed especially for growing athletes.
How Is Pediatric Sports Physical Therapy Different From General Therapy?
Bringing your youth athlete to a Children’s sports physical therapist means you’re working with a team of highly qualified, skilled and experienced pediatric and adolescent sports medicine experts. They know sports injuries, and they know the special needs of children and teens. And while physical therapists who see adults can treat pediatric patients, children and teens may make up a small percentage of their practice. Pediatric PTs, on the other hand, are specialists in kids and teens, dedicating their careers to treating them..
Children’s bones, muscles and joints require special care. Growth plates—–the areas at the end of the long bones in the arms and legs responsible for making new bone tissue—–are still open in children and teenagers. If these growth plates become injured , and are not diagnosed or treated properly, it can lead to damage that may leave youth athletes permanently sidelined from their favorite activities. Pediatric sports PTs are trained to recognize, identify and treat these types of injuries specifically.
Why Does Each Child Require a Specialized Physical Therapy Treatment?
Children and teens need to be stimulated and engaged in their sports physical therapy to reap the biggest benefits and recover quickly. If they aren’t challenged and entertained, they become disengaged — potentially prolonging their recovery time.
David Marshall, MD, Medical Director, Sports Medicine Program, says, “Children and teenagers’ sense of motivation is completely different than an adult’s, and, of course, every individual is different. It’s critical to learn those points of engagement and utilize them, like tools, during the recovery program.”
A pediatric sports PT also wants to know about your child specifically. Does she play a sport? How often? What position? The answers to these questions help a pediatric sports PT cater your athlete’s program specifically to her body’s needs.
How Can Sports Physical Therapy Be More Youth Friendly?
Pediatric sports PTs can translate your child’s or teen’s therapeutic goals into exercises that seem more like a training session than therapy, making rehabilitation both challenging and fun—that can mean better compliance and a faster recovery.
Pediatric sports PTs bring a special understanding about children and teens:
- Young athletes need special attention.
- Teens need individualized treatment too—they are still growing and are not young adults.
- Children need hands-on cuing, and teens benefit from this too.
- They need close supervision to perform exercises with proper technique.
Sports Physical Therapists Share a Passion for Children and Sports
A pediatric approach to sports physical therapy offers passion, atmosphere and experience to your child’s treatment. We have a passion for young athletes and will bring that passion into our work. After all, many pediatric sports PTs were youth athletes themselves; they come to your family with a personal understanding of what your child may be going through.
For children and teens, that passion results in good feelings about their treatment:
- They feel understood and heard.
- There’s a mutual understanding that fosters respect.
- It translates into more effective therapy.
Can Sports Physical Therapy Really Be Fun for Children? Yes!
Pediatric sports PTs provide a fun, kid-friendly atmosphere that makes children and teens feel more at ease during their treatment. It’s warm, welcoming and provides age-appropriate challenges, creating a safe space for your child to get better.
“Part of my job—beyond the exercises and treatments—is to engage the kids and help install a sense of belief in themselves,” says David Marshall, MD, Medical Director, Sports Medicine Program. “That way, they are inspired to continue to work at getting better even when we aren’t around.”
What If My Athlete Has an Injury and Needs Sports PT?
If your child or teen has an injury, Children’s Sports Medicine is here to treat your athlete. The Children’s sports physical therapy team specializes in treating growing athletes because we only work with kids and teens. We are clinical experts in treating patients from 8 to 21 years old. Our team consists of licensed healthcare specialists whose goal is to help growing athletes decrease pain and restore or improve movement. Following an evaluation, our team develops a plan of care for each patient that includes techniques to manage and reduce pain, improve function for everyday activity and return young athletes to their sports.