Feature Article

Paediatric sports injuries: providing age-appropriate management

Damien McKay
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There are significant differences in the patterns of sports injuries that are sustained by children as opposed to those seen in adults. Appropriate diagnosis, investigation and management are required.

Key Points

  • Sports participation comes with great physical and psychosocial benefits for children and adolescents but also with an element of risk.
  • The patterns of injury in children and adolescents differ to those seen in adults and relate to the unique properties of the developing musculoskeletal system.
  • The adolescent growth spurt represents a period of increased vulnerability for injury.
  • Imaging modalities should only be used when necessary in the young athlete, to minimise exposure to ionising radiation.
  • Assessing and managing paediatric sporting injuries appropriately is important in promoting ongoing participation and minimising attrition rates from organised sport.
  • The potential for a missed diagnosis of a more serious condition exists because of the overlap of symptoms with common sports injuries; alternative diagnoses should be considered in patients with atypical signs and symptoms.