CHLA Motion Analysis Lab helps young athletes avoid common overuse injuries

Doctors report that they're seeing more and more kids - at younger ages - getting sidelined by sports injuries, and they worry it's becoming a troubling trend.

A unique motion analysis lab at Children's Hospital Los Angeles is helping pediatricians treat young athletes.

Eleven-year-old Gus Armstrong loves competition. In his age group in the 800 meter race, Gus is ranked 4th regionally and 12th nationwide.

But during one practice, he felt acute pain in his right calf and foot.

"And it ended up being my right Achilles tendon," Gus said.

Dr. Tracy Zaslow, medical director of the Children's Orthopaedic Center Sports Medicine Program at CHLA said, "We see a lot of injuries in kids who are getting more and more active in sports at younger ages."

After Gus recovered, he re-injured himself.

His mother, Roslyn Simpson said, "He was performing at a high level. And for the injury to happen like it did in the middle of the season, it set him back."

Zaslow and her sports medicine team brought Gus into their motion analysis lab.

"We actually look at how they move, how they run, how they jump, how they do certain sports specific activities." Zaslow said, "And we can access their movements into 3D images."

The team identified the first mistake Gus was making.

"When I was running, I would crossover my feet," he said,

Straightening his stride increased his speed. Gus also wasn't firing his glute muscles and his knees were collapsing in. Doctors gave him exercises to help him adjust.

Zaslow said, "That can actually change their mechanics and help them so they won't be doing those errors any longer."

Zaslow also suggests playing more than one sport. Studies show kids who play multiple sports have less injuries.

"By doing multiple sports you build muscle in different areas. You get different strengths and flexibilities," she said.

CHLA plans to take this technology on the road to educate more young athletes.

"If we can get the right bio-mechanics from the beginning, we'd be hoping to avoid those injuries down the road," she said.

For now, Gus' focus is on the Junior Olympics and he hopes Sunday to go for even more gold.

"I wanna go to the Olympics and win a gold medal," he said.
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