In 1974, Tommy John became the first person to undergo a surgery aimed at repairing a tear in the elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament; a procedure which became named after him. Two years later, 13 years old David Ayala, a Little League pitcher received the same surgery.
Ever since then, there has been a notable rise in the number of young athletes requiring the surgery with 60% of them aged 15-19 according to Rush University Medical Center’s study in 2016.
What is the cause of this rapid increase?
According to medical doctors and other experts, the increase in the number of youth athletes suffering from injury to the Ulnar Collateral Ligament of the elbow and other complex sport injuries such as concussion, spinal fractures due to stress, damage to the anterior cruciate ligament, and others is primarily due to overusing the body by participating in competitive sports all year round.
Why exactly do these young athletes stretch themselves beyond the limit? With the huge amount of money parents invest in sports league every year which can be as high as $20,000 a year, the answer to this question is not farfetched. Parents constantly reiterate the need for their children to work hard at sports such that they earn multiples of their parents’ investment in their sporting career.
Another common cause of these sporting injuries among young athletes is the push for them to specialize in only one sport at a tender age. Experts say this can lead to recurrent injury in a particular body part and burnout in the long run.
Jay Paris thus advice parents and coach to allow their wards to try out as many sports as they are interested in especially when they are between the ages of 7 and 14 and also take periodic rest.