As the new school year approaches, so does the return of fall sports and that can mean injuries ranging from sprained ankles to ACL injuries and concussions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, sports-related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits in 12 to 17-year-olds. Injuries from organized and unorganized sports also account for 775,000 emergency room visits annually.
Kunal Kalra, MD, orthopedic surgeon at the Children's Hospital of Michigan at the Detroit Medical Center, who is dual fellowship trained in pediatric orthopedics and orthopedic sports medicine, says common fall sports related injuries can include sprains and strains, stress fractures, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, bruises, dislocations, pulled muscles and concussions. Dr. Kalra says a little preparation can go a long way in preventing some injuries.
Here are some tips parents and athletes should consider before participating in any sports related activity including those in the fall season.
- Get a sports physical before the season, which can uncover underlying medical problems that can increase complications and injuries.
- Participate in regular warm-up exercises to increase flexibility.
- Use recommended safety equipment such as pads, helmets, mouthpieces, protective cups and eyewear.
- Get proper conditioning to strengthen muscles.
- Proper coaching about prevention of overuse injuries of the upper and lower extremities can significantly reduce the risk of injuries during the season.
- Hydrate before, during and after exercise to avoid heat-related illness.
- Wear sunscreen for outdoor sports to prevent burns.
- Do not continue activity if pain is severe or if it persists more than two weeks.
- Recognize signs and symptoms of concussions including:
* Appearing dazed, confused or stunned
* Confusion about assignment or position
* Being unsure of game, score, or opponent
* Moving clumsily
* Answering questions slowly
* Losing consciousness (even briefly)
* Mood behavior, or personality changes
* Can’t recall events prior to or after hit or fall
* Headache or “pressure” in head
* Nausea, vomiting or dizziness
* Double or blurry vision
* Sensitivity to light and noise
* Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
* Concentration or memory problems
* Does not “feel right” or is “feeling down”
If you have any of the signs or symptoms of a concussion listed above after a blow to the head or body, you should not go back to play the day of the injury. A health care professional, experienced in evaluating a concussion, needs to let you know when it is safe to return to play.
The Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Children's Hospital of Michigan offers convenient child-friendly services in metropolitan Detroit including locations at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit as well as specialty centers in Canton, Clinton Township and at DMC Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery Center in Dearborn. For further information visit www.childrensdmc.org/orthopedics, or call (313) 745-5227 to see a specialist.to see a specialist.