Kids' sports-related knee injuries rise

The number of children playing organized sports is exploding. So too are the number of sports-related injuries.

CBS News correspondent Bigad Shaban reports that some parents are wondering whether pain should be a part of the game.

Amy Monergo is a proud soccer mom, but a cautious one.

Her 10-year-old daughter Dakota just started on the field last month, but putting any more time into sports beyond a once-a-week, non-traveling league was at out of the question.

"You get a knee injury when you're 10 years old and it may be something you have to deal with the rest of your life. Knees are very tricky," Monergo said.

But among children, a new study points to a dramatic increase in the number of sports-related knee injuries. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found a more than 400-percent spike among their patients over the last decade.

"Year-round sports have become very popular, and the more you participate in anything, it's going to increase your chances of injury," said Dr. Laith Jazrawi, chief of sports medicine with NYU.

Operations to repair knee injuries can require a lengthy recovery process, and even disrupt a child's growth.

That's because in order to reconstruct a torn ACL, for example, doctors often drill into the bone, going through what's called a growth plate. In adults, that plate is already developed, but going directly through one in a child can stunt the size and shape of still growing bones.

For 9-year-old Nina Howland, it's a risk worth taking, as she's on the field 4 days per week.

"I would never stop playing soccer if I got hurt. I would just keep trying. It's just so fun. You get so addicted to it, you don't care if you get hurt," Howland said.

But it's a constant thought for a weary soccer mom on the sidelines who has been dealing with knee injuries her entire life.

"I would not want my child to have an injury for no reason except we thought she should be in soccer," Amy Monergo said.

Orthopedists argue avoiding sports altogether isn't the answer. Instead, they recommend children learn proper techniques to keep the stress off their bones. The solution for young athletes may be found in how they play the game.

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