Upper St. Clair student athletes are in the middle of their fall seasons, and unfortunately, for some kids, that could mean injuries.
According to WebMD.com, a staggering 12 million students suffer sports injuries each year. However, being armed with the proper knowledge and taking certain precautions before they hit the field can help lower their risk and aid in injury prevention.
“Basketball has the highest number of injuries per year, based on the actual number of kids who report them, in part due to the fact that it has the highest number of participants,” said Scott Schweizer, MD,
sports medicine physician at Canonsburg General Hospital. “It is followed by football, baseball, soccer, softball, gymnastics and hockey.”
According to Dr. Schweizer, overuse injuries account for more than 50 percent of sports injuries in adolescents. These occur over time as a result of making repeated motions.
“Immature bones and insufficient rest also are to blame for injuries in adolescents who are still growing, and in athletes who are required to do a lot of throwing, such as quarterbacks, baseball and softball players, and javelin throwers. The next most common type of injury is sprains of ligaments, tendons and muscles," he said.
Injury prevention is key, which requires taking appropriate safety precautions for the sport at all times, and not just for the games.
“About 62 percent of sports injuries that happen in middle school and high school students occur during practice," Dr. Schweitzer said.
Students also should take an appropriate amount of rest from sports, follow recommended pitch counts in throwing sports and be sure to cross train, so as to avoid overtraining a single muscle group, Dr. Schweitzer said. Other tips to consider when playing sports include:
- Play multiple sports, which will help engage different muscle groups and avoid overtraining injuries
- Visit a physician prior to the sport’s season to evaluate for any chronic injuries. The physician also can recommend
appropriate treatment and bracing for existing injuries, if needed.
- Add pre-participation training, such as plyometrics and core strengthening, which will help avoid injuries
- Proper stretching and warm-up prior to playing, as well as cooling down and stretching after playing
In addition to following the tips above, Dr. Schweitzer advises parents and coaches to aid in injury prevention by ensuring that student athletes remain adequately hydrated during practice, that the athletes
are following proper pitching recommendations and that they are trained to recognize the signs of concussion, and discontinue play for athletes with suspected head injuries.
WebMD.com also recommends that parents make sure that coaches are certified, particularly in CPR, know first aid and how to use an
automatic external defibrillator. In addition, the coaches should ensure that there are no pieces of equipment that can cause injury.
"The best way to treat injuries is to REST,” Dr. Schweitzer said. “This is followed by a gradual return to play, after the child is symptom-free, with appropriate training and conditioning. Sprains will usually require an extended period of bracing for protection, even after the student has returned to play.”
For more information about sports injury prevention or to make an appointment with Dr. Schweitzer, call (724) 873-5595 or visit www.wpahs.org/locations/canonsburg-general-hospital.