Q&A with Christine Boyd, MD on Sports Medicine

Christine Boyd

According to Christine Boyd, MD, “Young athletes with orthopedic and sports injuries are not just small adults. Growing bones and brains are susceptible to different injury patterns than adults throughout adolescence and young adulthood.”

Dr. Boyd, a pediatric sports medicine physician, is part of the new pediatric specialty partnership between Stanford Medicine Children’s Health and John Muir Health in the East Bay. She and her colleagues see a wide range of adolescent and teen athletes in their Pleasanton Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center, located at 5000 Pleasanton Avenue.

Beth Lannon, executive director of Children’s Specialty Services at John Muir Health, noted that the need for specialized pediatric sports medicine has been great throughout the East Bay. “Very few physicians in California specialize in young athletes, yet so many children in our area are involved in organized sports. It’s so important to maintain their bone and joint health and to be aware of how any injuries may impact their healthy participation in these sports — and potentially their entire futures.”

We sat down with Dr. Boyd and Beth Lannon to talk about kids and sports — from the youngest contenders to participants in the Olympics — and to get more details about this specialty. We learned that Dr. Boyd is a former standout local athlete herself. She ran track at Foothill High School in Pleasanton and was captain of the women’s track team at Stanford. She came back full circle, returning to Stanford for a fellowship after completing her medical degree at the University of California, San Diego, and finishing her internship and residency at Children’s Hospital Oakland.

Tell us about your practice and goals for young patients.

Dr. Boyd: Our Pleasanton center consists of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, a primary care sports medicine specialist, a team of certified athletic trainers and an onsite physical therapy clinic staffed with therapists who concentrate on treating young athletes. The focus of my practice is diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sports-related injuries in children and teens. Our goal is to encourage young people to be active while limiting the risks of injury, maximizing their performance and ensuring safe return to play after an injury occurs. This is accomplished through prevention, education and research programs as well as by providing access to our extensive care team.

We’re in a great position to be able to collaborate with our colleagues in other departments at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, most recently with pediatric neurology on concussion care and adolescent medicine on the care of young female athletes. Moving forward, we hope to include our local patient population in research projects, when appropriate.

What are some of the most common pediatric sports injuries that you see?

Dr. Boyd: Overall, we see a large volume of overuse injuries involving joints, growth plates, soft tissue and muscles. We also see a fair number of acute injuries and fractures to the extremities. Injury patterns tend to be seasonal, so as we head into the fall, we will be seeing more soccer, football and cross-country athletes with injuries.

Are there any trends you have seen in youth sports in the past few years?

Dr. Boyd: The biggest trend we see is more significant injuries at younger ages. Kids are spending more minutes on the field in game situations, where the injury rate is higher. More and more sports are becoming year-round. While playing sports year round is fine, young athletes should avoid playing the same sport year round. Playing multiple sports is essential in developing gross motor skills and preventing injury. This remains true through middle school.

What do you look forward to in your practice in the future?

Dr. Boyd: I look forward to seeing the next kid who comes in with an injury or issue. Each family I treat brings another opportunity to educate and empower the athlete and their family to maximize the benefits of youth sports.

Any last words on your work in this “arena”?

Dr. Boyd: When I am not at the office, I am shuttling my own two kids between their multiple sports activities. I frequently run into my patients at different sporting venues or around town. I love living where I practice. Youth sports can be a healthy, valuable part of childhood, and I want to make sure it stays that way.

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