Injuries are an integral part of athletic performance frequently occurring in elite sports. As studies show, young athletes are particularly susceptible to potential risks of physical activity since sports injuries might have prolonging consequences on the bone development of the competitors (Brown, Patel & Darmawan, 2017). Furthermore, traumas might have a severe impact on the mental health of adolescent athletes (Von Rosen et al. 2018). The consequences of sports injuries demand further research to prevent the occurrence of injuries in young competitors and minimize the harmful after-effects of physical activity. The primary objective of the current paper is to analyze the existing scientific articles concerning the consequences of sports traumas on bone development and psychological health in adolescent athletes.
Consequences on Physical Development
Before discussing the after-effects of sports injuries in young athletes, it is essential to explain the potential risks that are associated with this phase of life. Adolescence is the period when the organism of the individual is developing rapidly both physically and psychosocially; therefore, serious sports injuries might have a severe impact on growth and bone development. According to Brown et al. (2017), an average adolescent male gains about 9 kilograms or 20 pounds of weight and 9 centimeters or 3.5 inches of height per year. At the same time, adolescent females generally gain 8 kilograms or 17.5 pounds and 8 centimeters or 3.15 inches per year (Brown et al. 2017). Such growth severely influences the musculoskeletal structure of the organism and makes young athletes highly prone to sports injuries. Furthermore, maturation also includes body recomposition and affects flexibility, muscle and bone mass, and motor skills (Brown et al. 2017). Frequently, the bodies of young athletes cannot adapt to the changes in time, and neurodevelopmental immaturity may cause serious sports injuries. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the condition of the adolescent competitors to prevent traumas.
Having acknowledged the potential risks associated with adolescence, it is crucial to discuss what consequences the injuries might have on bone development in young athletes. According to Patel et al. (2017), musculoskeletal traumas include bone (low and high-risk fractures), tendon (joint tendonitis), and bursa wounds, and half of the injuries demand medical intervention. Furthermore, the rapidly changing height, weight, and bone density lead to a higher injury rate specifically in contact types of sport, such as American football and basketball (Patel et al. 2017). Nevertheless, Krabak et al. (2019), prove that non-contact physical activities, such as running, also pose a severe threat to bone maturation in young athletes. In the research, the authors demonstrate that improper running technique and inadequate footwear frequently lead to short-term injuries and increase the potential risks of long-term traumas, such as high-stress fractures (Krabak et al. 2019). Another case study by Von Rosen et al. (2018) demonstrates that a high number of adolescent athletes are injured weekly leading to severe consequences concerning their performance. Overall, sports injuries in young competitors require additional attention both from athletes and medical personnel.
Consequences on Mental Development
Similar to physical development, adolescent athletes experience great changes in the psychosocial and psychological aspects. An unstable mental state that might be frequently noticed in young athletes may be further deteriorated by sports injuries. According to Von Rosen et al. (2018), adolescent competitors might experience depression and loneliness, commence self-blaming, and lose athletic identity. Such psychological complications further affect the performance of the athletes and increase the chances of additional injuries. The authors also found out that 30% of adolescent competitors experience a moderate level of injuries and about 10% suffer from severe physical traumas for the majority of the season (Von Rosen et al. 2018). In the post-traumatic period, the authors particularly emphasize the loss of athlete-identity as one of the most severe consequences (Von Rosen et al. 2018). This psychological complication might potentially lead to a lack of motivation and giving up the sport (Von Rosen et al. 2018). The athletes have to be properly consulted concerning sports injuries and their consequences to minimize their effects on mental health.
Another frequent psychological complication that is frequently formed after physical traumas is recurrent depression. According to Jacob et al. (2020), young athletes aged 12-15 years are highly susceptible to mental health deterioration. Compared to healthy individuals with no physical traumas, injured adolescent competitors develop depressive symptoms about three times more frequently (Jacob et al. 2020). Furthermore, depression might further enhance other psychological complications and directly affect athletic performance. Overall, the physical and mental conditions of the athlete are directly interrelated and have to be carefully monitored to minimize the potential risks of injuries and their consequences.
Summing up, the current paper examines the potential risks and consequences associated with sports injuries in adolescent athletes. Frequently, traumas might affect both the physical and mental state of the competitor leading to defective bone development and psychological complications, such as depression and loss of athletic identity. Furthermore, it is particularly vital to monitor the condition of adolescent athletes due to their rapidly changing organisms that increase the potential risks of physical traumas. Overall, sports injuries may cause severe long-term consequences; therefore, it is essential to prevent them in the early stage of trauma development.
Brown, K. A., Patel, D. R., & Darmawan, D. (2017). Participation in sports in relation to adolescent growth and development. Translational Pediatrics, 6(3), 150–159.
Jacob, L., Smith, L., Haro, J. M., Stickley, A., & Koyanagi, A. (2020). Serious physical injury and depressive symptoms among adolescents aged 12-15 years from 21 low- and middle-income countries. Journal of Affective Disorders, 264, 172-180.
Krabak, B. J., Tenforde, A. S., Davis, I. S., Fredericson, M., Harrast, M. A., d’ Hemecourt, P., Luke, A.C., & Roberts, W. O. (2019). Youth distance running: Strategies for training and injury reduction. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 18(2), 53–59.
Patel, D. R., Yamasaki, A., & Brown, K. (2017). Epidemiology of sports-related musculoskeletal injuries in young athletes in United States. Translational Pediatrics, 6(3), 160-166.
Von Rosen, P., Heijne, A., Frohm, A., Fridén, C., & Kottorp, A. (2018). High injury burden in elite adolescent athletes: A 52-week prospective study. Journal of Athletic Training, 53(3), 262-270.
Von Rosen, P., Kottorp, A., Fridén, C., Frohm, A., & Heijne, A. (2018). Young, talented and injured: Injury perceptions, experiences and consequences in adolescent elite athletes. European Journal of Sport Science, 18(5), 731-740.