John Santosuosso, PT, helps injured athletes with their back to sports protocols at Galloway Fitness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the leading cause of emergency room visits by 12 to 17-year-olds is a sports related injury.
Treating sports related injuries in this age group has become common for physical therapists, including the therapists at Bacharach’s Galloway Tilton Fitness campus.
“We treat patients from ages ten to 90,” said John Santosuosso, PT, director of Bacharach’s Galloway Tilton Fitness campus. “Since we are connected to a gym we do see a lot of fitness related injuries, but majority of our sports injuries come from local high school students.”
The most common types of injuries that John sees are ankle, knee or shoulder injuries due the demands on these parts of the body in sports like soccer, baseball, basketball and football.
When patients first come in they are evaluated to see what their strengths and deficiencies are, and then they are treated based on their symptoms. Treatment can include hands-on work like manual therapy, range of motion exercises, exercises to gain stability and strength and core strengthening exercises—which can sometimes be forgotten but are extremely important for injury recovery.
According to John, working with athletes is different than typical patients because “you can progress them quickly and be more aggressive with treatment due to their capabilities.”
While the timing of an athlete’s return to their sport will depend on the extent of the injury, most athletes want to get back as soon as they can.
“Letting an athlete resume play too quickly can result in them re-injuring themselves and then they are sidelined again,” said John. “Most athletes need clearance from a doctor in order to resume playing so it’s important for the physical therapist and the doctor to work together. Therapists need to walk the fine line between tough love and encouragement to help the athletes get back to their sport.”
The best way to treat an athlete is to empathize with them. “I can relate to the mentality of wanting to get back quickly,” said John. “I have had 5 knee surgeries and I missed my high school senior soccer season because of an injury. It’s crucial to take that wisdom and understanding to create an efficient and effective treatment plan.”