Hendricks Regional Health Blog

Sports Medicine, Physical Therapy Benefits for Young Athletes

Posted by: Carrie Meyer   |   Saturday, November 10, 2012   |   Latest Articles   |   Back to Blog

physical therapy, Sever's disease, sports medicine, basketball, heel pain

My 11-year-old son is an avid basketball player. He began the sport at age 6, and has more recently advanced to playing in a more competitive league.

This fall, he started experiencing heel pain that caused him to sit out drills at practice. His running gait, while never exactly graceful, became downright painful to watch as he struggled up and down the court. Ice and rest werenít helping, so we made an appointment for him to be evaluated by sports medicine physician Dr. Mark Booher.

After a thorough evaluation and x-rays, Dr. Booher diagnosed my son with Severís disease. It sounds scary, but is actually a pretty common cause of heel pain that some kids experience during a period of rapid growth. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, athletes with Severís disease are typically aged 9 to 13 years and participate in running and jumping sports such as soccer, football, basketball, baseball, and gymnastics.

Dr. Booher prescribed a multi-faceted approach to help my son, including a home stretching program, anti-inflammatory medication, and special shoe inserts to support his heal. While these steps did bring some improvement, it wasnít as much as we hoped. So, Dr. Booher's next step for us was a six-week course of physical therapy (two sessions per week).

We are at the halfway point of these sessions, and are amazed at the improvement already. Our first visit to the physical therapy department at Hendricks Regional Health Plainfield was about an hour, giving time for a complete assessment. I really appreciated how Kathy, our therapist, explained everything she was doing before she did it. My son and I felt very comfortable from the beginning. The most interesting thing I learned in this first visit was that she wasnít going to focus solely on the heel. For example, we learned that my sonís hip flexors are weak, and that can lead to instability (and chance for further injury). To address this, she added a new exercise to the home program we were already doing.

Next, Kathy performed Augmented Soft Tissue Manipulation (ASTYM) to help promote healing. She used special instruments to apply pressure along the painful areas. While this was definitely uncomfortable for him at certain times, it also gave him a major case of the giggles when she approached his feet!

Lessons Learned
Physical therapy has, above all, been educational for us. My son has learned proper stretching techniques, tips to improve his running gait, and why a proper-fitting shoe is very important.

And he isnít the only one that has learned a lot. Here are just a few of my lessons learned:

  • Donít wait! I am so happy we acted fast and had our son evaluated by a sports medicine physician early.
  • Follow the prescribed home program religiously. This was easy for us once our son realized how much it was helping. He now reminds me that itís time for our ďliving room PT!Ē
  • Give your child independence. I have begun sitting in the waiting room during therapy. If your kiddo is old enough, let them establish a relationship with their therapist on their own. With my son, this has been huge. He is so proud when he gets kudos on his progress from his therapist, and it makes him even more diligent about his home program.

Final thoughts
One thing is for sure Ė parenting is hard. We want to do the best for our kids, but the right decisions arenít always clear. Weíve got to grab our parenting victories when we can. For my husband and I, thatís truly what this was. Getting help from Dr. Booher and physical therapy was the absolute right decision. Our son played pain-free in a basketball tournament this past weekend, enjoying the sport he so loves. And more importantly, he has learned valuable information that will help keep him active and healthy in the future.

So, yeah, I may be strutting around for a bit. I am going to enjoy this little parenting victory. Who knows, it might be a while before I get another one!

~Carrie Meyer

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