18 Aug 2014

Are we pushing sporty kids too hard?

From Nine To Noon, 9:08 am on 18 August 2014

Dr Graham PatersonDr Graham Paterson is a New Zealand Commonwealth Games team doctor and sports physician, just back from Glasgow. He is involved with High Performance Sport New Zealand, and he's a partner in Unisports Medicine.

He says many parents and sports coaches are pushing sporty New Zealand kids too hard and putting them at risk of life-long injuries and burnout. Some pre-teens and teenagers are hot-housed in sport to the extent that they are receiving injuries that will cause problems for life, injuries that with more care, could easily have been avoided.

We're seeing people having hip joint replacements at incredibly young ages … I've had personal friends that I've known through rugby who've had their hips replaced in their thirties.

Sports physician Dr Graham Paterson says children's bodies are under too much stress from sport at a time when then just need to grow. And increasingly physicians like him are left to pick up the pieces - injuries that will cause lifelong problems.

Often I don't have a day where I don’t see someone where mum and the child or an adolescent are having watery eyes because I'm breaking the news to them that they've got a significant problem

He talks to Kathryn Ryan about the risks, and why he believes the gruelling regimes for individual sports are too much.