South Florida Hospital News
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December 2009 - Volume 6 - Issue 6

Student Athletes Benefit from Individualized Treatment at U18 Sports Medicine

Becoming involved in a sport is one of the healthiest things that a child can do. In addition to learning important life lessons, sports can provide kids with the exercise that they need while promoting healthy habits. Unfortunately, sports sometimes also cause injuries, which is why itís important for student athletes to have a place they can go where physicians specialize in sports medicine for children under 18.

Physical Therapist Natalia Pallares, U-18 Sports Medicine at Memorial Hospital Miramar, working with a patient who had disc surgery.

U18 (under 18) Sports Medicine is such a place. Part of Memorial Healthcare System, U18 is a place where student athletes can go for treatment of injuries, surgery if necessary, rehabilitation and enhancement of their capabilities. "U18 is a one-stop location for young athletesóthey donít have to go to one place to see a doctor, another place to undergo rehab and another place for training," explained Randolph B. Cohen, MD, FACS, FAAP, who is the director of U18 Sports Medicine and an attending pediatric surgeon at Joe DiMaggio Childrenís Hospital. "We have created a dedicated facility that serves all of these functions."

Athletes of all types are treated at U18, including football, basketball, baseball, tennis and soccer players; swimmers, dancers, martial artists, marathon runners and more. "All of our physicians are fellowship-trained in pediatric orthopedic surgery," said Dr. Cohen, "and our therapists have received special certification in orthopedics from the American Physical Therapy Association. U18ís athletic trainers are also specially trained and dedicated to the care of student athletes."

U18 Sports Medicine, which opened in September, treats a gamut of injuries including sprains, strains, contusions, fractures, ligament injuries and more. Since its inception, physicians have seen more than 2,000 athletes, ranging from elementary school age to high school athletes. "You get the most injuries where you get the most numbers, which is usually in that age range," said Dr. Cohen. U18ís rehabilitation department is also specially geared to kids in both the types of exercises prescribed and in the equipment that it offers. "The equipment is designed with kids in mind," explained director of Rehabilitation Services, Dawn Broksch, PT, MAOM. "Itís fun and interactive; for example, instead of a regular treadmill, we have one with all of the bells and whistles to make it interesting to teens." Children can also take advantage of Wii soccer and aerobics programs to help them return to their regular sports routines.

"We offer conditioning programs that are custom-designed for the sport and the athlete," she added. "The types of movements needed for soccer vs. football are very different, so we work one-on-one to design individualized programs."

Physical Therapist Natalia Pallares, U-18 Sports Medicine at Memorial Hospital Miramar, working with a patient who had disc surgery.

Both the clinical and the rehabilitation components of U18 also specialize in the treatment of female athletes, who may suffer from gender-based issues including eating disorders and menstruation problems. "Our therapists, who are all female, understand the unique requirements of female athletes and are very sensitive to their needs," said Broksch.

"When kids of either gender come here, they feel like they belong," she added. "When kids out in the community go to other doctors, their injuries are treated like the same injuries in adults. Children have their own niche here, where they are treated by physicians who are recognized for their expertise in pediatric sports injuries and orthopedic problems."

Physical Therapist Natalia Pallares, U-18 Sports Medicine at Memorial Hospital Miramar, working with a patient who had disc surgery.

In addition to treating injuries, prevention is a large part of U18ís mission. Physicians teach youngsters about their injuries and how to prevent them in the future, and athletes are also provided with preventive training during physical therapy sessions. "We provide seminars to area coaches where we share tactics to prevent injury, as well as address other issues such as dehydration and steroid use," said Dr. Cohen. To date, more than 3,000 coaches have participated in the four-hour seminar. U18 also provides certified athletic trainers to local high schools and reaches students through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

As adult athletes gain superstar status and televised high school sports gain a following, sports are becoming a more popular activity for children, according to Dr. Cohen. "Every parent thinks that their son will become the next Derek Jeter," he said, adding that a lot of kids are often guided into sports by their families or the media. "And while they might not always be influenced by the right motivating factor, what matters is that sports provide so many other benefits, such as team-building skills, learning how to overcome adversity and developing interpersonal relationships with other youngsters. Sports also create a lifelong commitment by many athletes to maintain their bodies."

For more information about U18 Sports Medicine, call (954) 538-5500 or visit
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