Stanford Children’s Health Tackles Rise in Youth Sports Injuries by Launching Young Athletes Academy in January

* Not just to treat and reduce injuries, but “to hopefully prevent
sports injuries altogether”

STANFORD, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than half of the seven million sports and recreation-related
injuries that happen each year in America are suffered by youths 5-24
years old, according
to the Centers for Disease Control
. The organization Safe Kids
Worldwide reports that every 25 seconds a young athlete goes to the
emergency room for a severe sports injury.

“We’ve seen a three-fold increase in the number of youths participating
in organized sports since 1995,” said Charles
Chan, MD
, orthopedic surgeon at Stanford
Children’s Health
and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.
“That’s 44 million children a year. In an effort to achieve success,
which unfortunately is measured by winning, we’ve lost sight of overall
health and wellbeing.”

That’s why the new Children’s
Orthopedic Center and Sports Medicine Program
at Stanford Children’s
Health has developed a comprehensive care approach, including a new
Young Athletes Academy that just launched in January. This means hitting
the road with a full team of physicians, physical therapists, and
athletic trainers visiting area high schools to work directly with
students and coaches.

“We aren’t just visiting schools and conducting pre-season physicals,”
explained Chan. “We’re there to educate athletes and develop treatment
plans with school trainers and coaches. The goal is to hopefully prevent
sports injuries altogether.”

Scott Larson, executive administrative director of the program, says the
entire team is ready for the launch. “The plan is to begin partnering
with schools and building relationships. By teaching young athletes how
to properly stretch, warm up, run and jump, they’ll be less likely to
hurt themselves,” said Larson, a former cross-country runner who
believes something like the Young Athletes Academy would have been a
tremendous asset when he was in high school. “We’re being proactive and
providing learning objectives that will hopefully last throughout a
young person’s athletic career.”

A prime focus of the academy is to prevent youths from sustaining season
ending ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries, one of the most common
knee injuries in sports — and one that has seen an alarming rise among
young girls. The team hopes to reduce the rate of ACL tears by
identifying risk factors early and implementing a therapy plan with
motion analysis to improve joint alignment and biomechanics. In
addition, the team will offer screenings for overtraining and burnout,
consultations on the female athlete triad and nutrition, and provide
comprehensive concussion management. “We’ll even present a forum to
address mental health for athletes,” Larson added.

The Young Athletes Academy is not the only new program in Stanford’s
industry-leading effort in sports medicine. Next up will be the May
launch of the Pediatric Motion and Sports Performance Lab. Located at
the new Stanford Children’s Health Specialty Services – Sunnyvale
location, the 6,000-square-foot center will enable researchers to study
and better understand the science of movement in young people.

“There’s a lot of research in the area of sports performance and
athletics but most of it focuses on mature athletes,” explained Chan, a
clinical professor of orthopedics at the Stanford University School of
Medicine. “Stanford physicians, scientists and care teams would like to
change that standard by focusing on the growing athlete.”

Chan, who has repaired ACL tears in children as young as 7, noted that
it’s only in the last couple of decades that surgeons would even operate
on a child with open growth plates for an injury such as a torn ACL.
“They’d brace it and recommend holding off on agility sports for a few
years. But there are techniques now that won’t inhibit growth.” Braces
often don’t work, as kids usually wind up taking them off and playing as
hard as they would have without the injury, usually leading to
additional damage.

“For a long time, we treated children’s injuries as if they were small
adults,” Chan said. “Now, we’re much more specialized and armed with
innovative surgical techniques for reconstruction. With the new
Performance Lab opening soon, we’ll also be able to use the latest
motion analysis to determine when it’s safe to clear a growing athlete
back to their sport.”

Focusing on the young athlete is just another way the Stanford
Children’s Health Orthopedic Center
provides treatment for all
conditions, including broken bones, concussions, scoliosis and spinal
disorders. The team also has programs for hip preservation, hand and
microsurgery, bone and soft tissue tumors, and limb deformity.

The support for young athletes builds on a history of novel orthopedic
treatments. For children with different-length legs, surgeon Scott
Hoffinger, MD
, pioneered the use of a magnet-powered
bone-lengthening device that is implanted inside the too-short bone. His
colleague Lawrence
Rinsky, MD
, is among the first on the West Coast to use a
magnet-powered implant to replace a bone in a child with bone cancer,
providing an artificial bone that grows with the child. The team is now
planning to introduce magnetically-lengthened rods for stabilizing the
spine in young children with severe scoliosis, a change of procedure
that will greatly reduce the number of surgeries required to help kids
with this challenging condition.

The Children’s Orthopedic Center and Sports Medicine Program has six
, including San Francisco, Emeryville and Walnut Creek. The
team includes 11
physicians and a large staff
of pediatric orthopedic nurses and
nurse practitioners, athletic trainers, rehabilitation experts, physical
therapists, biomedical engineers and prosthetists.

“We think Stanford’s approach with the Young Athletes Academy will be
very beneficial for schools,” said Matt Smith, athletic trainer at
Burlingame High School. “Injury reduction, improved conditioning, skill
acquisition and overall better health are important to our kids, and we
appreciate what this new program offers. We look forward to working with

“Over the last several years, the community has told us that being a
part of one of the world’s top health care institutions is important for
kids and their families,” Larson said. “With the Young Athletes Academy
and the Motion and Sports Performance Lab, we’re ensuring that the
latest orthopedic research and care from Stanford will be more available
and accessible than ever. Young athletes, both boys and girls, are
excited about what this will mean to their performance, injury
prevention and safe return to play – now and in the future.”

About Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile
Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

Stanford Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at
its core, is the largest Bay Area health care enterprise exclusively
dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Long recognized by U.S.
News & World Report
as one of America’s best, we are a leader in
world-class, nurturing care and extraordinary outcomes in every
pediatric and obstetric specialty, with care ranging from the routine to
rare, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Together with our Stanford
physicians, nurses, and staff, we can be accessed through
partnerships, collaborations, outreach, specialty clinics and primary
care practices at more than 60 locations in Northern California and 100
locations in the U.S. western region. As a non-profit, we are committed
to supporting our community – from caring for uninsured or underinsured
kids, homeless teens and pregnant moms, to helping re-establish school
nurse positions in local schools. Learn more at
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Stanford Children’s Health
Robert Dicks, 650-497-8364