Despite millions of young athletes participating in organized sports, there are few guidelines regarding the appropriate amount of training to limit the risk of injury in youth sports.
Neeru Jayanthi, MD, Associate Professor of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Emory University Sports Medicine Center in Atlanta, GA, presented "The Effects of Serial Sports Training Risk Assessment and Counseling in Kids (T.R.A.C.K.)" at the 25th Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine in Dallas, TX.
‘Young athletes who receive occasional on-line counseling throughout the year to follow some simple training rules may actually reduce the future risk of injury.’
Dr. Jayanthi, who serves as Director of Tennis Medicine and Associate Director of the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at Emory, sought to determine the effects of sports-specific counseling on injury outcomes in youth athletes. In a two-year, randomized, double blind study, his research team followed 362 athletes in various sports, ranging in age from 8 to 18 years. Athletes randomized to the control group received serial monitoring every 3 months, while those randomized to the treatment group received a counseling intervention checklist at the same intervals.
At baseline, injured athletes in both groups were more likely to be older, spend more time on organized sports, spend less time on free play, and participate in sports year-round. After six months of follow-up, only 27.7% of athletes in the treatment group were injured, compared to 48.0% of athletes in the control group.
"This unique study now demonstrates that young athletes who receive occasional on-line counseling throughout the year to follow some simple training rules may actually reduce the future risk of injury. Some simple rules include playing multiple sports, training less hours/week than your age, and doing less than a 2:1 ratio of organized sports versus unorganized free play," said Dr. Jayanthi.
However, current results are based on preliminary data from six months of follow-up; the authors caution that further results may vary based on longer length of follow-up. The 2016 conference, with more than 1,600 sports medicine physicians attending from throughout the United States and around the world, explores current decisions, controversies as well as best practices making that define the clinical practice of sports medicine.