Sports Physical Therapy
The Sports Physical Therapy team at Seattle Children’s helps school-age children and teens heal after sports injuries. Our sports physical therapists (PTs) have 2 main goals:
- To safely return your child to play
- To prevent future injuries
Sports medicine at Seattle Children’s also involves:
- Sports Medicine Program
- Adaptive Sports Physical Therapy
- Athletic Training Program
- Seattle Sports Concussion Program
Why Choose Seattle Children's Sports Physical Therapy
- Children are not just little adults. Because they are still growing, they need special care when they get hurt.
- The effects of an injury and the healing process may be different in children than grownups, and children may need different treatment.
- We are experts in the ways sports can affect your child’s bones, muscles and joints. Our sports PTs are trained in pediatrics as well as orthopedics and sports.
- To create a plan to help your child, we think about their age, sport and concern. We watch them in action – playing sports, throwing a ball, running and jumping or using a stationary bike or free weights.
- Many PTs on our team hold special certifications in skills that help them meet your child’s unique needs, such as biomechanics for a specific sport, like baseball, ballet, Pilates or golf.
- We work closely with other healthcare providers in the Sports Medicine Program to make sure your child gets all the care they need to return to play safely and perform at their best.
The sports PTs from Seattle Children’s provide care at 4 locations with state-of-the-art facilities designed for ages 6 to 21:
- Our main campus in Seattle
- Our North Clinic in Everett
- Our South Clinic in Federal Way
- Our sports gym in our Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center
Our team also offers special programs around the area to help keep young athletes healthy.
Conditions We Treat
We see children with a wide range of acute and chronic injuries, including:
- Sprains, including ankle sprains (PDF)
- Tendonitis, including Achilles tendonitis (PDF)
- Growth-plate injuries
- Neck and back pain
- Shoulder and arm problems – such as rotator cuff tendonitis (PDF), Little League shoulder (PDF), shoulder instability, separated shoulder, Little League elbow, osteochondritis dissecans of the elbow and ulnar collateral ligament injury (UCL injury)
- Hip pain, including Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (PDF) and hip fractures
- Knee problems – such as Osgood-Schlatter disease (PDF), patellar dislocation, patellar tendonitis (PDF), patellofemoral syndrome (PDF), Sinding-Larsen-Johansson syndrome (PDF), iliotibial band syndrome (ITB syndrome) and osteochondritis dissecans
- Torn knee ligaments (ACL, MCL, LCL and PCL injuries) and meniscal tears
- Shin splints
- Chronic exertional compartment syndrome
- Sever’s disease (PDF)
- Overuse injuries
- Fractures, including stress fractures
- Other sports injuries
Services We Offer
If your child has ACL surgery, we offer group classes as part of their rehabilitation. Your child will work with others in group sessions on jumping, biomechanics, and cardiovascular training in preparation for return to sport.
Seattle Children’s offers specialized sports injury rehab for athletes with disabilities. We focus on helping school-age children and teens with disabilities heal after sports injuries or sports injury–related surgery. We work with athletes at any skill level who want to return to play, prevent injuries and improve their performance. Learn more.
Biomechanical analysis means looking at the way your child moves. A PT watches your child do the normal actions for their sport, like throwing a baseball or kicking a soccer ball. If the PT sees a movement pattern that may cause a problem, they figure out the reason. For example, your child may need to build more strength in some muscles or get better at some skills. The PT designs your child’s rehab plan based on this analysis.
Before surgery for a sports injury, your child may see a PT to learn what to expect. The PT explains the plan for helping your child heal and return to sports (rehabilitation or rehab plan). Then the PT teaches your child exercises they will need to do. After surgery your child comes back to work with a PT on these exercises.
Our sport PTs offer injury prevention screenings and biomechanical analysis (looking at the way your child moves) to give your child specific ways to prevent injury and perform better. Learn more (PDF).
Group exercise classes to strengthen your child’s spine and trunk muscles may help your child return to activity without pain and lower their risk of future injury. We also work on endurance and stretching and give your child a home exercise program to follow. Taught by a sports PT, classes are held once a week for 6 weeks.
After some injuries or surgeries, your child may not be able to be active on solid ground right away. But they may be able to be active in the water because water supports their weight. Your child’s rehab plan may include sessions with a PT in the pool to build strength and improve motion in joints. This service is only in Seattle. Read more.
Before your child goes back to sports after an injury, a PT tests them to make sure they are ready. This helps prevent new or repeat injuries. The tests check your child’s strength, balance and movement and how long they can be active (endurance).
This form of physical therapy may keep the abnormal spinal curve from getting worse in some children with scoliosis. It may have other benefits, too, such as better posture, strength, flexibility and breathing. It may also improve the results of bracing and prevent or delay surgery. Your child learns and practices exercises at visits with a PT and does them at home each day. Read more (PDF).
Tape, straps, sleeves and braces can support an injured body part or take the pressure off it as it heals. Sports PTs also use these aids to help athletes be more aware of their posture and movement so they can change habits that may cause harm. This can help your child heal now and avoid injuries later.
Scheduling an Appointment With Sports Physical Therapy
- If you would like a referral to Sports Physical Therapy, talk to your primary care provider. If you already have a referral, please call 206-987-6400 to schedule an appointment.
- If you already have an appointment, learn more about what to expect and how to prepare.
- Learn about Sports Physical Therapy resources such as useful links, videos and recommended reading for you and your family.