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Health Beat: Sports injuries in young athletes

Published On: Aug 01 2014 02:10:36 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 01 2014 05:40:35 PM EDT

About 35 million children play organized sports each year. As sports become more competitive, many young athletes train year-round. That means more injuries and more surgeries to fix them.


Remi Ramos has been playing competitive tennis for eight years.

"No time off. Never anytime off!" Ramos said.

An injury last year changed everything for the 17-year-old athlete.


"I was in the middle of a four-hour match, and I slid on the clay courts, and I felt something pop in my hip," said Ramos, who had a labral tear in both of her hip joints.

Surgeries would require more than a year off the court, at the height of college recruiting.

"It couldn't have been a worse time for this to happen," Ramos said.

More than 3.5 million kids receive treatment for a sports injury each year. In the past 10 years, football injuries have risen 23 percent and soccer injuries have risen 11 percent.

Since 2000, there has been a five-fold increase in shoulder and elbow injuries among baseball and softball players.

Now, hospitals across the country are expanding their programs to care for young, injured athletes.

"What we found at our center is there are a lot of kids participating in sports, probably more young kids than there are weekend warriors, who are injuring their hips," said Dr. Jeremy Frank, pediatric sports medicine specialist at Joe Dimaggio Children's Hosptial.

To fix Ramos's injury, Frank made three small incisions to stitch part of her hip joint, called the labrum, and reshaped the ball and socket.

It has been a long road to recovery for Ramos and her coach, but she refuses to give up.

"There was no stopping me from coming back," Ramos said.

"She’s an unbelievably disciplined young lady, and she loves the sport," said her tennis coach, Brian Gordon.

After a year and four months of recovery, Ramos is training for her first tournament.

"I’m extremely nervous, but I'm extremely excited!" said Ramos, who is ready to prove that she is better than ever.

The rehabilitation process is different for kids and teens who suffer from sports injuries. For example, while adults can lift heavier weights to build muscle, pediatric patients may need to do higher reps and lower resistance to avoid hurting growing bones, muscles, and tendons.

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