Sports injuries in young athletes: long-term outcome and prevention strategies

Phys Sportsmed. 2010 Jun;38(2):29-34. doi: 10.3810/psm.2010.06.1780.


Physical activity plays a significant role in the physical and emotional well-being of a child. In the past 15 to 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in sports participation at a young age, which has offered numerous health benefits, including self-esteem, confidence, team play, fitness, agility, and strength. Children are playing sports at younger ages. This article assesses the long-term outcome of sports injuries in young athletes, with suggestions on how to prevent such injuries. There are no definitive epidemiological data on withdraw from sports activities due to injury in young athletes. Disturbed physeal growth as a result of injury can result in length discrepancy, angular deformity, or altered joint mechanics, and may cause significant long-term disability. Sequelae of Osgood-Schlatter lesion include painful ossicle in the distal patellar tendon. Fragmentation or separation of the apophysis appears to be the result of adaptive changes to the increased stress that occurs in overuse activities. The presence of these changes undeniably demonstrates an osseous reaction, although they are not disabling. Promotion of a physically active lifestyle is encouraged worldwide, particularly with regard to the many health benefits. Reduction of only a moderate proportion of all sports injuries is of significance for the young athletes' health and could have a long-term economic impact on health care costs. It is therefore important to convince medical doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers and coaches, as well as athletes of the necessity to implement active prevention measures in their therapy and training programs, thus decreasing the injury and re-injury rate and enhancing athletic performance.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Injuries* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Sports