A pediatric sports medicine specialist is a healthcare provider who helps children with injuries caused during sports or athletic activities. These injuries could result from players bumping into each other or a child working the same muscles too much. A child could also fall on a hard surface and break a bone. If untreated, damage to a child's tendons, joints, muscles, and bones could have lasting effects on their growth.
Pediatric sports medicine specialists must have 4 years of medical school and 3 years of training in pediatrics. They also must have 1 to 2 years of training in sports medicine. Plus, they have to earn a Certification of Added Qualification through the American Academy of Pediatrics.
These healthcare providers know that children are not "small adults." They understand that the body of a child or teen is still developing and needs a different approach to treatment.
More than 2.6 million children are seen each year in the emergency room for injuries from sports and recreation. Pediatric sports medicine specialists not only treat these injuries. But they also tell parents how to help prevent them from occurring again.
Some children and teens may find it hard to talk about what's going on with their body. Pediatric sports medicine specialists are trained to treat children. They know how to work with young athletes and put them at ease. Their offices are also often designed with young patients in mind. For small children, for instance, they usually offer toys and games that may not be found in regular healthcare providers' offices.
These specialists treat common sports injuries in young athletes. These include:
Injuries to ligaments
They may also treat serious problems such as:
Tendonitis and other overuse injuries
Injuries to growth plates
Damage to the shock-absorbing cartilage
Concerns about nutrition or sports supplement use
Care of an athlete with special needs
Plus, pediatric sports medicine specialists can help with almost any kind of pain. They can help with physical limitations that are making it hard for a child to enjoy sports or exercise. They also have expertise with conditions that could affect a young athlete's performance, such as:
These healthcare providers work in places like children's hospitals, private clinics, and sports medicine clinics. You might need a referral from your child's primary healthcare provider to see one of these specialists. Make sure you know what your health insurance plan needs before you set up a visit.