Keeping Student Athletes Safe as Fall Sports Begin

Summer is winding down, and that means that school will start again soon. Part of back to school also means back to sports. And getting back to sports might also mean sports injuries for some students.

Fall is a time of practices, games, warm-ups, locker talks, water breaks and post-game celebrations in the life of a student athlete. But along with all that fun activity comes some risk. Youth sports injuries are, unfortunately, often common.

Our staff at Clear Lake Physical Therapy and Rehab Specialists (CLPTRS) are skilled at not only treating sports injuries but helping to prevent them as well. Part of prevention is education and sharing knowledge.

Let’s talk about some of the most common sports injuries in youth.

A dislocated shoulder is a common injury with young people. This is because children’s shoulder joints are looser and weaker than adults. A dislocation usually occurs when the arm is held straight out to the side and then forced backward. Usually there’s a sound of a pop, followed by intense pain. Strengthening shoulder muscles through weight training and physical therapy can reduce the chance of a dislocation.

A concussion usually occurs from a direct blow to the head. This brain injury results in loss of normal brain function. Symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, feeling groggy, blurred vision, or feeling confused. Sometimes the symptoms of a concussion are not immediate and can surface a day later. The primary treatment for a concussion is rest, which for the athlete means no athletic activity, plenty of sleep and brain rest, including minimal use of electronics.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are serious knee injuries that can occur with a collision, such as a blow to the outside of the knee from another player. They may also occur when an athlete lands a jump or tries to turn suddenly. Usually, an ACL tear is felt immediately, and a pop sound is heard. Large swelling of the knee also develops within hours. A trained physician can often determine that the ACL has been torn simply by physical examination. Most young athletes with ACL tears will need to have surgical reconstruction of their ACL, followed by physical therapy, to return to their sport.

Ankle sprains are the most common injuries in youth sports. Poor playing field conditions, changing direction too quickly, or having another athlete land on your foot are usually the reasons for an injured ankle. Once an ankle is sprained and has been rehabbed enough so the athlete can play again, proper ankle taping techniques by a physical therapist can prevent further injury.

Many sports injuries can be prevented by knowing what your child’s practices and games are like when it comes to physical activity. As a parent, keep an open line of communication with their coach. When you know what’s being encouraged in practice and on the field, you can help support healthy directions and be aware of common pitfalls that might be dangerous.

Proper warm up and cool down is also a helpful strategy to prevent injuries. Model to your children injury prevention techniques. Whenever you take part in physical activities with your child, whether a race around the neighborhood or a game of catch in the yard, lead your child through the warming up, cooling down and stretching to avoid injury.

At CLPTRS, we care about the health and well-being of all student athletes. Our staff athletic trainer, Mel Waytashek, provides care to athletes in the Clear Lake and Clayton school districts. Injury prevention, management, evaluation, and rehabilitation of any athlete is her specialty, and she does it with caring compassion.

Mel works with injured athletes to restore their health and performance through physical therapy. She’s often on-hand at practices and games to attend to those who may suffer an injury while playing. Whether she’s taping an ankle, administering triage at the time of an injury, or teaching a student exercises to restore their body, Mel does it all in a professional and kind manner.

If you would like more information on how to reduce injuries for your student athlete or need physical therapy for a previous sports injury, please call us at 715-263-4103 to see how we can help. You do not need a doctor’s referral to schedule a consultation with us!