Nearly 10 million high school students participate in sports.
Statistics from the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations indicate the numbers jump each year.
There’s a painful reminder in that number of the cost of competition: sports injuries.
Health care providers, including physical therapists, say they’re now treating kids with injuries they usually expect to see in older adults, even professionals.
OSU Wexner Medical Center Dr. Clinton Hartz said his practice includes high school athletes with signs of arthritis.
“If somebody has an ACL tear, within 10 to 15 years, they’re likely to have some form of --90 percent of the time -- some form of arthritic change in their knees,” Dr. Hartz said.
Physical therapy provides relief and healing for many student-athletes. Physical therapy is aimed at assessing deficits in movement or muscle imbalances and impairments and treating them.
Sports specialization has resulted in diagnoses for younger kids.
Physical Therapist Christy Zwolski at Ohio State’s Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute said specialization is not always a negative, but it does represent a culture shift in youth sport.
“You've got some sports we deem them early specialization sports those include gymnastics, diving, sometimes swimming,” Zwolski said. “The window where you can develop skills for that sport is different than some other sports like soccer, basketball or volleyball.”
Delaware Hayes High School Senior Sydney McMillin tore her ACL but just wrapped her final high school season. She was out for a year.
She and her family turned to a form of therapy called “fusionetics” at RedLine Athletics in Delaware.
The program offers sport-specific year-long training aimed at the student-athlete between the ages of 8 and 18.
Rebekah McClelland, who is Director of Business Development for RedLine Athletics, said it’s about teaching kids to move correctly and consistently—in season or out.
“Trainers are looking for body movements that could be incorrect and addressing them whether it's balance-wise flexibility,” McClelland said.
RedLine Athletics has locations nationwide, three in Ohio.