When Can Little Johny Return to Sports after Back Surgery?Say your child or adolescent has back surgery. How soon can he or she go back to sports? Are there any sports or activities that should be avoided, and for how long? What do most doctors recommend?
Ten physicians who are members of the Scoliosis Research Society were given surveys to fill out. Questions concerned children and adolescents who had back surgery for any reason. Most of the patients had the spine fused because of scoliosis (curvature of the spine). The questions were designed to tell researchers what advice doctors give about children's activity after back surgery.
Despite the small number of doctors in the study, there was a wide range of responses. There was not very much agreement about either recommended or forbidden activities. The most popular time to go back to sports was six months after surgery. This was for low-impact, noncontact activities. Contact sports were generally allowed at 12 months.
About half of the doctors advised against collision sports. This advice was given on an individual basis, depending on the age of the patient, the kind of surgery done, and the time since surgery. Activities to avoid included gymnastics, football and rugby, weight lifting, skydiving, bungee jumping, parachuting, playing on a trampoline, hang gliding, and rodeo.
Specific guidelines for returning to sports after back surgery are not yet available. Doctors' advice comes from their own experience and what they've been taught. Learning more about current practice will help researchers set guidelines in this area.
Paul T. Rubery, MD, and David S. Bradford, MD. Athletic Activity After Spine Surgery in Children and Adolescents. In Spine. Februay 15, 2002. Vol. 27. No. 4. Pp. 423-427.
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