Teen athletes can often be very dedicated to their sports. They spend many hours training, honing their skills, and competing. For some teens, participating in a sport is an important part of their identity and social world. It may even be a pathway to college. So, when a teen athlete sustains a sports injury, it can be a major disruption to their lives. Parents of teen athletes need to know what they can do to help their injured child recover.

The Healing Period

It's important to make sure that your child follows their doctor's and physical therapist's instructions. Your teen may be tempted to try to exercise to stay in shape during their time away from the sport, but if the injured area is not supposed to be put under stress, you may have to put your foot down. A doctor may approve exercise like swimming, that won't strain the injured area, or exercise under the care of a therapist who will help them protect the injured area while they work out. But your child shouldn't resume exercise without talking to a doctor.

Your teen athlete may also need some adjustments to their diet during this time. If your teen has to refrain from exercise, they may need fewer calories because of their reduced energy usage. Help them avoid eating out of stress or boredom. However, it's important that when they do eat, they get plenty of nutrients, especially protein, to help them heal, so you should serve nutrient-dense meals whenever possible.

Regaining Strength and Skills

Though a period of rest might be required first, any serious injury will probably require physical therapy to heal properly. Exercises that the therapist orders your child to do at home are as important as the exercises during the therapy sessions, so make sure that your teen does their assigned home exercises as directed.

Even if your teen insists that they're fine, they should not return to their sport if they're still limping or if they have limited range of motion in the injured area. When they do have their normal gait and range of motion back, they may still have to do some work before getting back into the game. During a long recovery, your teen will lose muscle strength and endurance and will need to rebuild those before competing. Chances are that their skills in their sport, like pitching or dribbling, will need some honing as well. They should be given plenty of time to restore their abilities before competing again.

Rebuilding Confidence

A serious injury can damage your teen's sense of themselves as a strong, capable athlete. They may feel timid about returning to the sport, or angry about the circumstances of their injury. Some teens even experience depression after a sports injury.

It's as important to help your teen regain their confidence after an injury as it is to help them regain their physical health. Your young athlete shouldn't return to a sport until they're mentally and emotionally ready as well as physically fit. Encourage them to ease back into athletics gradually, building up their confidence with small successes. Discuss any signs of serious depression or distress with your teen's doctor.

Parenting a teen athlete is rewarding, but it can also be tough, especially when your child is dealing with an injury. A good doctor and physical therapist should be considered part of your teen's team – they can really help you to help your teen get on the road to recovery.  

Contact a company like Advanced Physical Therapy for more information and assistance.