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Counselling can help young athletes avoid injury

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Regular counselling on simple training rules can reduce the injury rate in young athletes, according to preliminary findings from a US study.

Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, Associate Professor of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at Emory University Sports Medicine Center in Atlanta, presented ‘The Effects of Serial Sports Training Risk Assessment and Counselling in Kids (T.R.A.C.K.)´ at the recent annual meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM).

Dr. Jayanthi set out to determine the effects of sports-specific counselling on injury outcomes in youth athletes. In a two-year, randomised, double blind study, his research team followed 362 children and young people aged from eight to 18 who participate in various sports.

Athletes in the control group received serial monitoring every three months, while those in the treatment group received a counselling intervention checklist at the same intervals.

According to AMSSM, at baseline, injured athletes in both groups were more likely to be older, spend more time on organised sports, spend less time on free play, and participate in sports year-round. After six months of follow-up, only 27.7% of athletes in the treatment group were injured, compared to 48.0% of athletes in the control group.

“Despite millions of young athletes participating in organised sports, there are few guidelines regarding the appropriate amount of training to limit the risk of injury in youth sports,” Dr. Jayanthi pointed out. “This unique study now demonstrates that young athletes who receive occasional on-line counselling throughout the year to follow some simple training rules may actually reduce the future risk of injury.

“Some simple rules include playing multiple sports, training less hours/week than your age, and doing less than a 2:1 ratio of organised sports versus unorganised free play.”

The current results are based on preliminary data from six months of follow-up, and further results may vary based on longer term follow-up.