It’s almost time for school to start. The summer has flown by quickly and now everyone is gearing up for back-to-school. That also means that sports seasons will soon be in full-swing. Athletics are great ways for kids and adults to stay in shape, learn valuable team-building skills and have fun, but, no matter your age, safety should always come first.
According the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are two (2) basic categories for athletic injuries, 1 – Acute Injuries and 2 – Overuse Injuries. Acute injuries are caused by a sudden trauma and are, most commonly, injuries that people are familiar with such as bruises, sprains, strains, tears, fractures and the like. Overuse injuries are often overlooked, as they are caused by continuous repetitive motion and occur gradually over time. Overuse injuries affect muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and growth plates. Common examples of overuse injuries occur in baseball pitchers, from the overhanded pitching style; gymnasts and cheerleaders, from continuously landing and putting pressure on knees, ankles, wrists and elbow joints; and swimmers, from the constant shoulder rotations.
Contact sports, such as football, hockey and wrestling, have inherent dangers that put young athletes at special risk for severe injuries. There are also sports that create risk of fall such as cheerleading, gymnastics, and pole vaulting. In all of these sports there is substantial risk of head, neck or back trauma. Concussions, for example, are brain injuries caused from a blow to the head or body and are common in most sports. Concussions can range from mild to severe and can cause memory loss, loss of motor skills, loss of concentration and other neurological issues. Any injury to the head, neck or back should be taken seriously, as there is a chance that the trauma could extend to the spinal cord or brain and be more severe than it appears.
There are measures that coaches, athletes and parents of athletes can take to minimize the risk of severe injury including:
- Regular, sport-specific, conditioning that begins prior to the athletic season that helps increase flexibility and build muscle strength;
- Teaching proper technique for the exercise, position, sport or individual athlete before the season begins and reinforcing the importance of technique throughout play;
- Use of proper equipment during training and play including shoes, helmets, mouthpieces, pads, protective eyewear and other safety gear;
- Taking time off from play (at least once a week) to allow the athlete’s body and muscles to recover and frequent breaks during practices or sporting events; and
- Emphasizing the importance of following the rules of the game and practicing good sportsmanship.
If an athlete is injured, it is important that he or she obtain prompt medical attention and be given plenty of time to heal properly before returning to the sport. Even if the appropriate amount of time is given for healing, the athlete may not be able to return to the sport or may not be able to return at the same level of play as prior to the injury.
The likelihood of injury is decreased if all of the above listed guidelines are followed, but, of course, these guidelines cannot guarantee safety. Equipment fails, technique is overlooked, and falls and collisions are bound to happen. If you or someone you know is severely injured while participating in an athletic activity, or due to equipment failure while participating in an athletic activity, contact Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC for a free consultation.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) website: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00056
Medical News Today (MNT) website article Young Athletes: Injuries and Prevention http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248796.php