Help Your Child Recover From a Sports Injury
Sports injuries among youth athletes are an unfortunate reality of competitive sports. Statistics reveal that 90 PERCENT of student athletes will face some sort of sports-related injury. While young people often recover more quickly than adult athletes, it can still be very difficult for a young athlete to navigate recovery from a sports injury. As a parent, it can be just as difficult to know how to help them recover properly.
Make the doctor’s orders a top priority. Start by making sure that you and your child understand your doctor’s recommendations and what to expect during the recovery process. Ask your child before you leave the doctor’s office if they understand what the doctor expects, and ask them to tell you in their own words what is expected of them. You’ll also want to be sure that you understand everything that they will be required to do so that you will be ready for any questions your child may ask as they recover.
Help your child focus on the bigger picture. Proper recovery will take time and will require rest and treatment, which may also mean missing a few games. Help your child to understand that recovering properly will allow him to continue to compete in the future, while improper healing could impair his ability to compete into his adult years. Remind him of other activities he enjoys off the field and encourage him to engage in these activities while he has the extra free time. Focus on all the other positive aspects of his life and be sure to emphasize victories in other areas outside of competitive sports.
Develop a routine and celebrate every milestone. Make a schedule with your child to help them look forward to full recovery. Map out each stage – the day the cast comes off, the day they start physical therapy, etc. – to help create small milestones that she can use to break the recovery process up into attainable goals. Create a daily schedule for physical therapy exercises and treatments and be enthusiastic when she completes them properly. Most importantly, celebrate every small victory and remind her that she is one step closer to full recovery.
Stay involved with the sport. Just because your child can’t compete doesn’t mean he can’t be involved in his favorite sport while he is healing. Find out if there are other ways he can stay involved and help the team, and look for programs that include other athletes who are recovering from injuries. Staying in touch with other athletes can prevent him from feeling isolated and help him to understand the importance of healing completely.
Make sure kids participate in their own recovery. It is tempting to take over every aspect of recovery when your child is injured, but it’s important to make sure she is an active part of her own treatment. While it feels like monitoring every facet of your child’s recovery will ensure success, children and especially youth athletes need to feel they have control over the process. What may look like laziness or a lack of motivation could actually be depression stemming from the helplessness they feel while incapacitated. Your child became a dedicated athlete because of her motivation and dedication to a sport, and the rewards of recovery will be a meaningful part of that dedication if she is integral in the process.
Be prepared to involve a professional. It’s not uncommon for adults to assume that kids are not as obsessive about athletic competition as professional athletes, but it’s important to remember that many successful Olympic athletes are under 21. Kids are just as likely if not more so to make their favorite sport the most important thing in their lives. For a teen that is highly competitive and perhaps even competing for a spot on a collegiate or professional team, it can be emotionally devastating to be removed from training and competition. If your child starts to show signs of depression or severe anxiety, be ready to reach out to a psychologist or therapist who can help them to understand their feelings.
The single most important role for you as a parent is to support your child and pay attention to his or her needs. Some young athletes will be constantly pushing to do more sooner, others may be discouraged and become withdrawn. In both cases, an understanding parent can help smooth the wrinkles of recovery from a sports injury so that your young athlete can compete for life.
If your young athlete needs help recovering from an injury, please call Move Better Physical Therapy at (434) 817-0980 to learn more about how our physical therapists can help with recovery from a sports injury.