ACPSEM conference: Aspects of screening young athletes considered

When screening children and young athletes you must establish exactly why this is necessary – and not measure young people just for the sake of it, Amanda Johnson told delegates.

Ms Johnson is a former senior physiotherapist with Manchester United FC’s academy and now lead physiotherapist at Aspetar in Qatar, one of the world’s leading sports medicine hospitals.

She said that while medical and physical screening of sports people at all ages had become commonplace and widely expected, there was some evidence that little useful information could be gained while the athletes were still growing.

Ms Johnson, who also works with Qatar’s Aspire Academy, which aims to develop home-grown, world class, Qatari sports people, said the strongest evidence supported medical screening –
and cardiac screening in particular – of young sports people. But she said physical screening of young athletes was important to help physios and other clinicians to provide the best treatment for the youngsters.

Young people could be screened for growth and maturity; physical literacy; and flexibility and strength, with the tests for maturation being some of the most significant.

‘At Aspire we had two boys, both aged nine and who looked identical in age terms, but one had a bone age of 5.9 and the other had a bone age of 12,’ she said.

‘Measuring physical literacy is also very important for physios if you are looking to develop skills, but it needs to be measured on a regular basis,’ she added.

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