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Sports medicine

Physicians specializing in sports medicine help with injuries related to athletics, fitness and exercise. They can diagnose and treat damage to the muscle, ligament, bone and tendon. Common reasons to see them include concussions, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, shin splints and muscle strains.

Pediatric sports medicine in Denver

Is your child suffering from a sports injury? We can help them get back on their feet.

At Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, our sports medicine teams collaborate to provide comprehensive youth sports medicine to children and young athletes. We treat children of all ages with compassion and a kid-friendly approach. Together we can help your child be active again.

Expert advice, available 24/7

Free health-related information is available just a phone call away. Our nurses help you understand your symptoms, treatment options and procedures. They will also help you find a provider or specialist and schedule an appointment.

Free health-related information is available just a phone call away. Our nurses help you understand your symptoms, treatment options and procedures. They will also help you find a provider or specialist and schedule an appointment.

Common youth sports injuries we treat

Our pediatric orthopedic and sports medicine specialists provide care for a wide range of sports injuries in children, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI)
  • Foot and ankle injuries
  • Growth plate injuries
  • Hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries
  • Hip pain and injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Overuse injuries
  • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE)
  • Sprains and strains
  • Stress fractures

Our children's sports medicine services

Our nationally known sports medicine teams include orthopedic surgeons, pediatric sports medicine doctors, rehabilitation therapists, athletic trainers and clinical psychologists. This dedicated team will create an individualized treatment plan or rehabilitation program focused on getting your child safely back to their active lifestyle.

Sports injury surgery

If surgery is necessary, our fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will discuss appropriate, age-specific surgical options. We also offer your child full access to other pediatric specialties right here on our hospital campus.

Our surgeons have been trained in the latest surgical techniques for all types of bone and joint injuries that are common in youth athletes. The sports medicine team meets to discuss each patient’s injury and appropriate surgical management, including post-operative rehabilitation.

Your child has unique surgical needs. Our surgeons specialize in physeal-sparing (growth plate) surgical techniques for kids that are still growing, as well as more traditional surgical intervention for older athletes. If your child is still growing, it is that they are evaluated by a pediatric surgeon trained in these techniques.

Our pediatric orthopedic surgeons commonly perform the following surgeries:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction
  • Arthroscopic procedures
  • Deformity correction
  • Labral repair of hip and shoulder
  • Ligament and tendon repair
  • Spine fracture care
  • Surgical management of broken bones
  • Tommy John surgery

ACL injury treatment and prevention

The ACL is the ligament in the middle of the knee which prevents the shinbone from sliding out in front of the thighbone. An injury involving the ACL can end an athlete’s season or even a career, and girls are more likely to suffer this injury.

Our sports medicine teams are equipped to care for ACL injuries, and also recommend prevention programs that focus in changing the way athletes train.

Sports injury rehabilitation

Often, student athletes and children need physical therapy and rehabilitation as a treatment itself or before and after surgery to ensure a full, healthy recovery. Our Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Program offers physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to help athletes return to activity safely and quickly.

Pediatric sports medicine FAQs

Many parents wonder whether their child should see a specialist, what they can do to prevent sports injuries for their children or when to start stretching or strength training. Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions our experts receive.

Should my child drink water or a sports drink?

Water usually is the best choice for exercise unless your child is involved in workouts longer than 60 minutes. At that point, the energy stored in muscle is becoming depleted and electrolytes in the body have been lost in the sweat. Therefore, for these longer bouts of exercise, have your child consume a sports drink that contains carbohydrates (for fuel) and salt/potassium (for electrolytes).

Is strength training safe for kids?

Strength training can absolutely be safe in kids if proper resistance techniques and safety precautions are followed. Strength and core training is beneficial for maximal performance, rehabilitation from injury and enhancing long-term health.

When can my child start to lift weights?

Research has shown that even young children can safely begin strength training. If your child is ready to participate in organized sports, they are probably ready to begin strength training (This typically corresponds to age 6-8 years). The key to making this activity safe is to provide supervised training that emphasizes safety precautions, proper technique and proper use of equipment. The training regimen should involve lower weight, higher repetition lifting. Body resistance exercises are a great choice for young athletes. Maximal lifts or any type of Olympic-style lifting should be avoided.

What are the benefits of strength training?

Strength training has the obvious positive consequence of increasing overall strength, in addition to playing a role in injury prevention and long-term health. Strength training in youth may also stimulate bone mineralization and have a positive effect on bone density. Appropriate strength-training programs have no adverse effects on linear growth or growth plates. Core strength, resistance exercises and flexibility are crucial elements of keeping active kids healthy in their sport and long term.

What are the risks of strength training?

The risks of strength training in kids come from unsafe lifting techniques and equipment being used improperly in an unsupervised setting. Children and adolescents should avoid power lifting, body- building and maximal lifts until reaching physical and skeletal maturity in order to avoid injuries.

Should my child compete wearing a brace?

If your child is recovering from an injury, it might be appropriate to wear a brace to compete. For example, if the athlete has had a significant ankle sprain, research has shown that an ankle brace may help prevent another ankle sprain. Not all braces have been shown to be as effective as the ankle brace, but there are other braces that may help athletes compete during the recovery phase. For athletes who have not had an injury, the use of bracing is controversial, as there is a lack of evidence that bracing is helpful to prevent an injury from happening in the first place. The most important concept for the athlete to understand is that regaining range of motion, strength and balance after an injury is the best method of preventing future problems. Bracing cannot substitute for the hard work needed to rehabilitate an injury.

Should my child take performance-enhancing supplements?

In general, most supplements have not been studied in youth and using them should be discouraged. There is no requirement for supplements to be proven safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The products often do not live up to claims and they may not contain what they list as ingredients. Additionally, because of the lack of regulation, the product may contain traces of illegal, potentially dangerous, substances.

How can my child stay active if they are injured?

Having an injury can sometimes be a blessing for an athlete! During the injured period, the athlete can focus on gaining strength of other muscle groups. For example, core muscle training is usually allowed and can be an effective method of enhancing performance in a multitude of sports. Additionally, time can be spent on stretching tight muscles, a common problem in children and teens that may have contributed to injury. During the injury recovery period, flexibility around the injured joint and other joints can often help the athlete once they are ready to return to participating.

Which is better for my child’s injury: ice or heat?

In the case of a sudden, acute injury, the best choice is to use ice. The swelling and inflammation associated with acute injury often results in significant pain. Ice applied directly to the injured area helps to reduce swelling, and therefore can be useful in controlling pain in the first 24-48 hours after a new injury. Ice can be applied with an ice pack. Applying ice directly to the skin should generally be avoided. Joints like the ankle respond well to submersion in a bucket of ice water. Heat tends to be more useful in more chronic injuries as a method of increasing blood flow to the area in order to relax and loosen tight, painful tissues. Physical therapists may even alternate ice and heat during specialized treatments for the athlete.

Is flexibility important in young athletes?

It is important for growing athletes to maintain flexibility to assist in prevention of overuse injuries. During periods of rapid growth, flexibility can easily decline, which contributes to overuse injuries of the lower extremities. Also, a decrease in flexibility can also be a significant factor in the development of overuse injuries around open growth plates in young athletes.

How often should kids perform stretching exercises?

Stretching should follow 10-15 warm-up and cool-down periods for any athlete during activity. Focus should be on the lower extremities (for example, hamstring and quad stretches) for runners.

How can I preventing sports-related injuries in my child?

All sports inherently come with some risk, but the American College of Sports Medicine estimates that 50 percent of injuries are preventable. Here are some ways to help your child stay safe:

  • Ease them into training early to assure they are ready for the heat, altitude and exertion when practice starts.
  • Dress them right (in light-colored, breathable clothes) and hydrate (drink 16 ounces of water or sports drink one hour before practice and four to eight ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during practice or play).
  • Know the coach and be sure they have an emergency plan and know how to reach you. Ask if the coach, or anyone else present at practice, knows first aid and CPR. Be sure the coach is aware of any pre-existing medical conditions your child might have.
  • Get your child a pre-participation physical even if the sport doesn't require it.
  • Don’t let them over-train, as too much training and not enough rest can lead to injury, fatigue and burnout. Our doctors recommend setting aside at least a few months out of the year for the child to take a break from sports.

Our Sports medicine Locations

Currently Viewing:

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children
2001 N. High St
Denver, CO 80205
 (720) 754 - 1000

Currently Viewing:

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children
2001 N. High St
Denver, CO 80205
 (720) 754 - 1000
Rose Medical Center
4567 E 9th Ave
Denver, CO 80220
 (303) 320 - 2121

2.0 miles

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