Keeping Young Athletes Safe from Injury
San Ramon Regional Medical Center recently hosted a Back to School Health Fair with a focus on keeping young athletes safe. With classes and school sports back in session at full speed, it’s important for parents and coaches to be aware of how to help athletes avoid injuries that could leave a lasting impact.
At the recent health fair, physicians spoke about how to prevent sports-related injuries, how to identify symptoms and what treatments are available for those that do get injured.
Lawrence Dickinson, M.D., Neurosurgeon at San Ramon Regional Medical Center, spoke about concussions. He explained how a survey found that 41-percent of concussed athletes in 100 high schools around the country were returned to play before resolution of all their symptoms.
When athletes suspect a concussion, they should see their physician for a CT scan immediately. Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Dizziness or "seeing stars"
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Delayed response to questions
- Appearing dazed
Athletes may experience symptoms of concussions immediately. Others may be delayed for hours or even days after injury, such as:
- Concentration and memory complaints
- Irritability and other personality changes
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleep disturbances
- Psychological adjustment problems and depression
- Disorders of taste and smell
Dr. Dickinson says the desire for athletes to compete is often greater than self-preservation. They need to make sure they receive clearance by a healthcare professional before returning to sports after a concussion. Returning to play too soon may increase an athlete’s risk of serious brain injury.
The rule of thumb is all concussions are serious:
- Don’t hide it
- Report it
- Take time to recover
- It’s better to miss one game than the whole season
David Jupina, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon at San Ramon Regional Medical Center, spoke with athletes about overuse and repetitive motion injuries.
“Too much activity can lead to injury, pain and permanent changes to an athlete’s body. When activity is repeated too often, there is not enough time to heal before returning to play,” Dr. Jupina explained. “Young athletes are still growing and can be at greater risk than adults for overuse injuries, so it’s important to be aware that this can become a problem.”
Symptoms onset can be subtle and gradual over time. When activity is repeated too often, there is not enough time to heal before returning. Examples of repetitive motion activities include throwing, running or swimming.
Here are some simple ways to prevent injuries:
- Always warm up and cool down
- Utilize proper coaching techniques
- Be aware of proper training – “no pain, no gain” is not a motto to follow
- Take part in flexibility training – i.e. stretching and core stability
Treatment options for overuse injuries include activity modification, medication, injections, physical therapy and surgery. Dr. Jupina recommends always considering the least invasive treatment for quick return to the athlete’s sport.
The Sports Performance Institute (SPI) at San Ramon Regional Medical Center has experts available to evaluate athletes of all ages for fitness and physical limitations and then safely design a customized, scientific and medically-based training program for that individual.
SPI provides comprehensive strength and conditioning, advanced plyometrics, resistance training, speed and agility drills, core strengthening, injury treatment and prevention.
For more information, to schedule an appointment or to receive class schedules on SPI, please call 925-275-6166 or visit www.sanramonmedctr.com.