Reasons Your Kid Needs Pediatric Sports Physical Therapy

Updated 4/5/21

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 may include:

  • Poor training. Proper training is critical to help keep a child or teen safe while playing sports and practicing.
  • Overuse injuriesConstant and repetitive movements can strain developing bodies.
  • Improper technique. Practicing good form while playing sports and practicing means safer play for teen athletes.
  • External factors. Using the wrong equipment, or practicing or playing on an improper surface can lead to an injury.

Kids and teens often play a variety of sports, some experts say too many, and at high levels of competition while their bodies are still growing. That’s why it’s so very important to have a pediatrician perform sports physicals, and why—when your child or teen is injured—that the healing process should include sports physical therapy designed especially for growing athletes.

Pediatric sports physical therapist assists teen dancer

Bringing your youth athlete to a Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta sports physical therapist means you’re working with a team of highly qualified, skilled and experienced pediatric and adolescent sports medicine specialists. 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 may only make up a small percentage of their practice. Pediatric PTs, on the other hand, are specialists in working with in kids and teens, dedicating their careers to treating growing bodies.

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.

“Pediatric physical therapy at Children’s is individualized, and every athlete receives a personalized treatment plan to address their needs. We consider each athlete’s diagnosis, sport or activity, as well as their skill set,” says Stephen Kroll Jr., MD, a Pediatric Sports Medicine Primary Care Physician in the Children’s Sports Medicine Program.

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.

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 and specifically to her body’s needs.

Our experienced team can help get your child back in the game quickly and safely

Bringing your child to a Children’s physical therapist means that you’re now part of a team of highly qualified, skilled and experienced pediatric sports medicine specialists. Every team member is dedicated to getting the kids back to doing the things they love most.

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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, because:

  • Young athletes need special attention.
  • Teens need individualized treatment, too, as 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 growing athletes and sports

A pediatric approach to sports physical therapy offers passion, atmosphere and experience to your child’s treatment. We have a passion for growing athletes and will bring that passion into our care when working with kids and teens. 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 teens? Yes!

Pediatric sports PTs at Children's provide a fun, kid-friendly atmosphere that makes children and teens feel more at ease during treatment. It’s warm, welcoming and provides age-appropriate challenges, which creates a safe space for your athlete to get better.

“As a Pediatric Sports Medicine Primary Care Physician at Children’s, I understand the importance of motivating a patient before referring them to sports physical therapy, because a sense of understanding the goals of their therapy can help a child’s or teen’s outcomes,” says Dr. Kroll.

A majority of the time, an athlete can also work on issues that may be limiting their performance in a sport and lead to future injuries.

“A highly motivated patient can—with hard work and discipline—be a better athlete as a side effect of their therapy,” adds Dr. Kroll. “In my eyes, that is a win-win.”

If your child or teen has an injury, the Children’s Sports Medicine Program is here to treat your athlete. Our sports physical therapy team specializes in treating growing athletes because we only work with kids and teens. We have clinical expertise in treating patients from 8 to 18 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.

To make an appointment with our pediatric sports physical therapy team, request an appointment or call 404-785-KIDS (5437).

Stephen Kroll Jr., MD, a Sports Medicine Primary Care Physician in the Sports Medicine Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, is board-certified in pediatrics and sports medicine. Dr. Kroll specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related injuries, nonoperative musculoskeletal injuries, overuse injuries and concussion management. Dr. Kroll is also a founding member of the Pediatric Research in Sports Medicine (PRiSM) organization. Early morning appointments are available with Dr. Kroll at our orthopedic and sports medicine clinic at Children’s at Meridian Mark.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.