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Injury Advice

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Kndrgrtntchr96

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My daughter has her first injury. She has three pars fractures in her spine. The doctor explained the pars are small bones that connect the vertebrae and it is commonly found in gymnasts caused over time. She has been placed in a full torso brace for approx 4 months. He says nothing that has any impact. I am really nervous because I know she is going to lose muscle tone and probably skills. Am I over-reacting? Is there something I could have her doing? How hard is it going to be to get her back into shape after this? She is really down because she is going to miss her entire meet season. Help!!!!!
 

gym law mom

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At this time, I would just focus on a complete recovery from this injury and not worry about how fast skills will come back etc. She has a serious injury and before she goes back to they gym, I think you and your dd need to sit down and have some long talks with the doctor and her therapist(yes, she'll need alot of PT) about going back to gymnastics. What are the long term effects and is she at risk for more injuries to the back? She should be able to start doing some light PT in a couple of months---possibly sooner. Usually they start working on core strength and some work for her legs. Make sure you get hooked up with a PT who specializes in sports rehab.

How old is your dd and what level is she at? I know it is probably very tough for her to be sitting out a whole season.
 
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Kndrgrtntchr96

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She is 11 and a level 5. We were on our way to a really good season.
 
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nettyinpa

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I am so sorry to hear about your dd's injury. I agree, just let her heal and worry about the conditioning and skill stuff later. Focus on getting her well, talk to the doctors and take it from there. It's sad that she'll miss the meet season but I'd hate to see her get back into it too soon and end up with an even worse injury. :(
 
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bpatient

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I agree with the previous responses to your message. Since the type of injury you described in your brief post seems likely to have resulted from repetitive microtrauma due to hyperextension rather than from some unusual accident, and because overuse injuries of the spine are difficult to overcome and frequently recur, you might want to thoroughly discuss with your child's doctors if returning to her previous training pattern (and thus to repeated and frequent exposure to the stresses that contributed to her injury) is likely to hurt her again. Perhaps you've already had that conversation; if so, did the orthopedist know enough about gymnastics to offer some specific advise as to how your daughter could modify her training to avoid reinjury?

It may be that simple changes such as reducing her training hours or avoiding the sort of hyperextensions that likely contributed to her injury could help her to continue to enjoy gymnastics while minimizing the chance that back problems will plague her in adult life. That's worth considering for a kid who has already sustained a back injury, since anecdotal and scientific evidence suggest that gymnastics can be harmful to the spine. (See, for example, the notorious "Gymnasts In Pain" article from the Orange County Register--many of the former high-level competitors reported long-term back pain--and a report of MRI studies of elite gymnasts published last year in Skeletal Radiology, which showed that 13 of 19 of the 12 to 20 year-old gymnasts invited to a national training camp had radiographic evidence of spinal injury such as spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, degenerative disk disease, or herniation; that was in good agreement with a similar study in which 2/3 of the Olympic-level gymnasts surveyed had abnormal MRI results.) Of course that most certainly doesn't mean that gymnastics has doomed your injured child (or even an elite gymnast with MRI evidence of spinal injury) to a life of pain, but it does raise the question of where hurrying back to competition following bracing for pars interarticularis fractures should be on the priority list for a beginning gymnast.

To respond directly to your question, "Am I over-reacting?" Ahh, well, perhaps.... After all, she's a kid in a kid's sport. For all I know your 11 year-old Level 5 may be on the fast track to glory, but I suspect that most children of her age and her level will leave the sport within a few seasons. She'll need her back for the rest of her life. I hope that she recovers quickly. :)
 
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audra

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Back injuries are very common in gymnastics and the most important thing for your daughter is to follow the doctors orders. If she is completely healed when going back to the gym she will get back to her skills and strength quicker. Unfortunately with a back injury if affects the whole body so there is not many exercises you can do that will not hurt it. Good luck with her recovery and be her motivator when she gets frustrated.
 
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Kndrgrtntchr96

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Spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis is what the MD diagnosed her with. She is to the point right now that she doesn't know what to do with herself. I assume it is because she spent every waking minute in the gym (14-16 hours a week).
 
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