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What are the risks with sport for teenagers with haemophilia?

Growth spurts are a particularly risky time for teenagers. Common ages for growth spurts are around 13-14 years for girls and around 15-17 years old for boys.

When going through a growth spurt:
  • You can be a bit clumsy
  • Growing bones can make your muscles tight and more likely to have injuries with over use e.g. tight hamstrings can lead to knee problems
  • Other players start to get bigger and rougher. Body contact with other players has a much greater impact (Bang! Guess who comes off worse?)


What risks do you need to watch out for?
  • Damage to joints with  joint bleeds
  • Muscle bleeds – these are more likely to happen if you are playing a sport without building up fitness or warming up before a game
  • Minor bumps, bruises or normal post exercise muscle aches
  • More serious bleeds like an abdominal or head bleed could be caused by rougher sports like in a football or rugby tackle or full contact martial arts


However – RISKS CAN BE REDUCED! Consider your options:
  • Time your factor treatment around when you play. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about having your clotting factor close to when you will be playing sport but remember that having prophylaxis before you take part in a sport won’t stop a bleed from occurring
  • REMEMBER – the new non-factor therapies that are injected under the skin (sub-cutaneous treatments like emicizumab/Hemlibra®) do not provide the same level of cover as factor VIII (8) injections before high risk sports. Talk to your Treatment Centre about this if you have changed products to one of these therapies.
  • See the physio at your Haemophilia Centre for advice and a fitness assessment and planned program. If there isn’t a physio at your Haemophilia Centre, talk to your haemophilia doctor or nurse about the next steps
  • Start slowly with flexibility and strengthening programs
  • If you are a bit clumsy, practice some balance/co-ordination work first – your physio can help (but you have to do the practice!)
  • Can you practice the sport (or parts of it) at your own speed?
  • Wear protective equipment. Are you prepared to wear all the protective equipment required for the sport and that is recommended to you by your physio or Haemophilia Centre?

On the flip side – not exercising or playing sport at all risks losing out on fitness, fun, strong bones, healthy joints etc. Choose a sport that suits you – and your body! If you are not sure about this talk to your physio or nurse at your Haemophilia Centre. They can help work out what suits you best and ways to reduce risks of injury.

Australian and New Zealand Physiotherapy Haemophilia Group:
Original answer (2012): Auburn McIntyre, Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide; Emma Paterson, Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital; Wendy Poulsen, Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane
Revised answer (2022): Cameron Cramey, Royal Adelaide Hospital; Elise Mosey, Queensland Children's Hospital


Answered by: Physio

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Date last reviewed: 19 January 2022