Physical Therapy and the Young Athlete

Millions of youth participate in sports activities, from after school recreation to club sports. Young athletes often experience some discomfort with athletic activity. While some aches and pains are normal, pain is the most significant warning sign an injury that may require a physical therapist.

Persistent pain that worsens over time and restricts sports or daily activity is the best indicator that working with a physical therapist could be helpful. Physical therapists use the optimal combination of science and inspiration to provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. They can determine structural damage that requires further consultation by MDs, surgeons, orthopedists, or others to restore function, reduce pain and prevent re-injury.

A sports physical therapist is the bridge that aids the young athlete to return from physical stress or injury. They are sensitive to the concerns and frustrations about an injury or recent surgery. They understand the drive kids have to return to their sport as soon as possible.

Young athletes are eager to get back in the game. That is where the difficulty lies in sidelining patients to protect them from further injury or worse, ending their sport. Kory Bell is Director of Physical Therapy and a sports rehabilitation specialist at Orthopedic and Fracture Specialists in Portland, Ore. He encourages athletes to complete a physical therapy treatment program by getting his patients to think beyond the injury and a quick fix approach: “Even if this was the Olympics, you can’t play because it would end your sport.”

For a physical therapy treatment program to be successful, it requires the teamwork of the patient, parents/guardians, coaches and medical professionals.

Athletic kids are likely to experience some form of injury at some point. A sports medicine physical therapist can be a young athlete’s best advocate. He or she can develop a therapy plan that enhances young athletes performances, ensures their well-being and helps them manage a return to their activity as quickly and safely as possible.

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