How young athletes can safely return to sports after COVID-19

Most student athletes who are diagnosed with COVID-19 can’t wait to feel better and get back in the game.

However, the possibility of long-term complications after a COVID-19 infection has medical professionals and school administrators urging caution when it comes to clearing young athletes to return to the field, court, or pool. In addition to the usual activities that go along with a return to sports, such as annual physicals or buying new gear, student athletes who had COVID-19 require special attention.

Young person running laps on a track wearing a face mask.

Patrick J. Moreno, a sports medicine physician at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health (LG Health), says the primary concern for competitive athletes after COVID-19 is potential heart damage. In an effort to safeguard local student athletes, the Sports Medicine team worked with colleagues in Cardiology, Family Medicine, and other specialties, as well as local school districts, to develop a protocol for student athletes to safely return to competitive sports, and the strenuous exercise levels associated with those activities.

“We are still learning about the short- and long-term complications of COVID-19 in the pediatric population,” Moreno says. “As there is so much that we still don’t know, we recommend taking a cautious approach to children and teens resuming competitive sports practices or games after testing positive.”

This story is by Mary Beth Schweigert. Read more at Penn Medicine News.