Physical therapy helps athletes reduce injuries

By Jerry Moczerniuk PT, DPT

Does your child or grandchild play competitive sports?

Injuries are unfortunately a big part of competitive sports. Football, soccer and gymnastics are among the sports with highest rates of major, season limiting/ending injuries in high school athletes. Sprains/strains account for 35.9% of those injuries, with sprains and strains of the knee being most common. With increased sport participation among young individuals there has been increased emphasis on coming up with ways of reducing injuries in this population.

A vast study of research in 2015 American Journal of Sports Medicine identified that individualized injury prevention programs significantly reduce injury rates in adolescent team sports. This study identified improvement in muscular strength, proprioceptive balance, and flexibility as some of the more important factors. Once again, the authors of the study commented on specificity of programs catered to an individual athlete. Identifying specific, individualized risk factors, and having a more targeted and focused program can be more impactful on injury prevention.

For decades there has also been controversy regarding resistance training in young athletes. For younger athletes (children and adolescent) there should be specific considerations paid to skeletal maturity, dosing, and appropriateness of exercises. A 2017 article in Sports Health Journal, however, concluded that resistance training in children and adolescents can reduce the risk of injury by up to 68%, and it may also improve sports performance and general health. The authors did however underline that proper instruction in performance of resistance training is crucial.

Many parents and athletes consider personal trainers as the only source for young athletes to work on strengthening. A skilled physical therapist, however, can provide a very individualized assessment of an athlete, including muscle strength testing, balance and proprioceptive testing, as well as dynamic movement analysis, including functional movement screening and sport specific biomechanical screening. This specific assessment can lead to an establishment of an individualized plan of care, and interventions that are specific to each athlete.

During the evaluation, a physical therapist will determine the appropriateness of care. If functional impairments and medical necessity can be established, care may be covered by health insurance.

Remember, in New Jersey you can be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist without a referral from your doctor. Oftentimes those services are covered by insurance.

Dr. Moczerniuk is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, member of American Physical Therapy Association, and a clinical director at db Orthopedic Physical Therapy of Manalapan, located at 120 Craig Road, Suite 2, Manalapan. Dr. Moczerniuk can be reached at 732-462-2162 or via email at Jerry@dborthopt.com. You can also find out more about the practice at dborthopt.com.