Return of Football Season Brings Attention to High Injury Rates and Need for Prevention

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Educating young people and parents crucial to keeping kids safe

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Overuse injuries, especially in the beginning of the season are another big issue with kids pushing themselves too far and too fast without proper conditioning.

With fans anticipating the return of their favorite college and NFL players, thousands of young athletes also are conditioning for football programs of their own. The high-speed, full-contact plays may be an exciting aspect of the game, but also create a unique set of injuries that recent studies show are skyrocketing nationwide.

According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  •     The 2009 football season saw over 1.2 million football-related injuries;
  •     Such injuries resulted in more than $2.8 billion total medical costs from treatments in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and emergency rooms.

“Traumatic injuries to the knee and shoulder as well as concussions are the most common types of injuries we see on both the professional and youth levels,” said orthopaedic surgeon Matthew Matava, MD, team physician for the St. Louis Rams and spokesperson for the STOP Sports Injuries campaign and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “Overuse injuries, especially in the beginning of the season are another big issue with kids pushing themselves too far and too fast without proper conditioning.”

The STOP Sports Injuries Campaign was launched in the spring of 2010 by a coalition of leading healthcare organizations, including the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Sports Physical Therapy Section and SAFE Kids USA to expose the growing epidemic of youth sports injuries related to overuse and trauma.

Because many football injuries can be prevented, the AOSSM and AAOS encourage the following easy strategies for parents, coaches and athletes:

  •     Have a pre-season health and wellness evaluation to determine ability to participate
  •     Warm-up properly with low-impact exercises like jogging that gradually increase heart rate
  •     Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching. A good stretch involves not going beyond the point of resistance and should be held for 10-12 seconds
  •     Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize cramps
  •     Play multiple positions and/or sports during the off-season to minimize overuse injuries
  •     Wear properly fitted protective equipment, such as a helmet, pads, shoes and mouthguard. Do not modify equipment.
  •     Tackle with the head up and do not lead with the helmet
  •     Cool-down properly to gradually lower heart rate with exercises like light jogging.
  •     Don’t play through the pain. Speak with an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about injuries or tips on injury prevention.

Concussions in football are another serious concern and could have long-term health and mental ramifications. “Having coaches, parents and athletes know the symptoms of a concussion, is critical and could save lives,” said Matava. Concussion symptoms include:

  •     Balance problems
  •     Difficulty communicating, concentrating
  •     Dizziness
  •     Drowsiness
  •     Fatigue
  •     Feeling mentally foggy
  •     Headache
  •     Irritability
  •     Sleeping more than usual or not as much as usual
  •     Visual problems

If you recognize these symptoms in an athlete, seek treatment from a certified athletic trainer or physician immediately.

For more information on football injury treatment and prevention, visit http://www.STOPSportsInjuries.org or http://www.orthoinfo.org.

The STOP Sports Injuries campaign was initiated by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) and includes a comprehensive public outreach program focused on the importance of sports safety—specifically relating to overuse and trauma injuries. The initiative not only raises awareness and provides education on injury reduction, but also highlights how playing safe and smart can enhance and extend a child’s athletic career, improve teamwork, reduce obesity rates and create a lifelong love of exercise and healthy activity. The campaign’s message underscores the problems of youth overuse and trauma injuries and emphasizes the expertise of our coalition of experts, including the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Sports Physical Therapy Section, Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America and SAFE Kids USA.

About the AAOS

Contact: Lisa Weisenberger
lisa(at)aossm(dot)org
847-655-8647

Lisa Meyer
lmeyer(at)aaos(dot)org
847-384-4033

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