A new school year has begun! As kids get back in the swing of class and homework, many are also headed to the gym and fields for fall sports. Birmingham has no shortage of opportunities for our youth to take part in athletics, and we parents will be cheering them on as they practice and compete. Another important way we can support our kids is to help them stay healthy, which leads us to our conversation today with Ryan Hunt and Wendy Johnson of TherapySouth!
Ryan serves as the Clinic Director of TherapySouth Patchwork Farms. He attended Jacksonville State University, where he studied Exercise Science and was a member of the football team. He then obtained a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from UAB. He and his wife are both very active and have two sons who play sports.
Wendy serves as a Physical Therapist at TherapySouth Patchwork Farms. She earned a bachelor’s degree and played soccer at Samford University and obtained a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from The University of South Alabama. Prior to attending PT school, she coached high school soccer, and she currently coaches her daughter’s soccer team through Hoover Soccer Club.
As former collegiate athletes and parents to children who play sports, Ryan and Wendy know a LOT about sports related injuries. Let’s dive into our conversation to learn more about common injuries, prevention, and how physical therapy can make a difference.
Common Causes of Youth Injuries
While no one wants to see their child get hurt, it’s wise to be prepared and know that injuries can happen. With numerous opportunities and an increasingly competitive environment, many kids today play multiple sports or have rigorous training schedules. Sometimes the level of activity can put too much stress on their growing bodies, which aren’t yet strong enough to keep up. An injury may result from overuse or lack of rest. Another common cause of injury is weightlifting with improper form or the wrong weights. Kids can vary a great deal in size and strength, but their workouts are not always individually tailored, and they don’t always have access to a coach for one-on-one instructions. They may feel pressure to bench or squat the same weight as their peers or simply not know what amount is right for them. Of course, injury can also occur during practice, a game, or meet. Wendy and Ryan most often see injuries in the foot, ankle, knee, shoulder, or elbow.
Setting Kids Up for Success
Parents can play a helpful role in their child’s health by taking some preventative measures and properly addressing any injuries that do arise. For starters, do what you can to ensure your child gets enough sleep. Bodies recover during sleep, so good rest is essential. Additionally, encourage your child to stay hydrated. They sometimes don’t think about it, so help them remember. It’s also helpful to make sure they are dressed in appropriate clothing and shoes that fit.
Now let’s talk about how to handle a potential injury. The biggest piece of advice is to listen if your child expresses being in pain or shows any signs of pain. Don’t blow it off or tell them to “tough it out.” Kids sometimes downplay their pain to keep from disappointing others or missing out. It’s crucial that parents listen when a child speaks up and watch for signs of something being wrong. The really good news is that help is available! Physical therapists are able to help discern what is going on and guide your child through personalized treatment. Taking them to get treatment is much better than assuming nothing is wrong or that the pain will go away on its own. Unaddressed injury can affect growth plates and potentially lead to surgery. Keep the long run in mind – our bodies have to last us our whole lives!
TherapySouth has so much to offer when you’re facing an injury. Their therapists are skilled in a wide array of areas and have the expertise needed to guide your child on the path to recovery. Therapists also make a point to educate parents, so you can know the treatment plan and what needs to happen at home. TherapySouth utilizes a really helpful app that extends care even beyond the office. Patients can watch videos of the exercises to use at home, and therapists can keep track of the patient’s progress and communicate with them too. With nearly 25 locations across the greater Birmingham area, their clinics are easy to access, and there’s sure to be one near you!