The excitement of seeing your child participate in sports is something that is beyond description. Seeing your child injured while participating in those sports is devastating. Often, this will lead parents to question, was there something I could have done to prevent this? The simple answer is yes and no. Spotting Sports Injuries. Obviously, if you knew the injury was going to occur then you might have been able to stop it. But unless you are in the fortune telling business, that is not plausible. But, educating yourself about potential injuries can lead to decreasing the potential for your son or daughter from suffering from an injury.
Did you know that the injury rate for Lacrosse players is 2.89 per 1000 athletic exposures for boys and 2.54 for girls? An athletic exposure is defined as one athlete participating in 1 practice or competition. So if you have 20 players, 2 practices and one game a week that equals 60 athletic exposures. The average team (20 players) has 640 – 700 athletic exposures a year. When considering that over 100,000 girls and boys play on high school teams and another 150,000 are involved in recreational leagues, year round play is more common place. As such, you can see that 1000 athletic exposures is quickly obtained during the course of one year in the sport.
That being said, over 50% of the injuries are the result of non-contact mechanisms (meaning no contact with another player or object). The most common non-contact injuries were knee and ankle injuries. Male players tend to have higher incidence of shoulder, neck and back injuries. Although low, the concussion rate for Lacrosse players was .30 per 1000 athletic exposures which is second only to football. Knowing this is important, because the proper training can have a direct effect on preventing or decreasing the potential for these types of injuries. Not only do you reduce the potential for these injuries, but you also improve athletic performance.
For example, proper strengthening of the core has not only been show to drastically reduce low back injuries but has also show to improve athletic performance. We also know that proper strengthening and proprioceptive exercises for the ankle not only reduce ankle injuries but also have an impact on sprint speed. Most amazingly, is that current research is also indicating that proper strengthening and conditioning of the neck can reduce the potential and severity of concussions. So, aligning yourself with a performance coach who not only processes this knowledge but also skill set to develop an individualized program cannot only drive performance but also reduce the potential for injury.
Once an injury does occur, early intervention is key to success and aids in rapid return to sport. Early onset of physical therapy has not only been shown to reduce the severity of the injury but also expedite return to sport as quickly and safely as possible. Getting with the right therapist is essential to having a program that will not only rehabilitate the injury but which is also specific to your sport and one that will drive your performance. Not all therapists are created equally. Ensuring your PT has the experience in sports medicine, experience in working with the athletic medicine continuum of care (MD, ATC, PT) and extensive knowledge of exercise and biomechanics ensures you’ll be on the field in no time and in top notch condition.
About the author: Trent Nessler, PT, DPT, MPT. Trent is a practicing physical therapist with 14 years in sports medicine and orthopedics. He has a bachelors in exercise physiology, masters in physical therapy and doctorate in physical therapy with focus in biomechanics and motor learning. He author of a textbook “Dynamic Movement Assessment: Preventing Injury and Improving Performance", is the associate editor of the International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training and Member of the USA Cheer National Safety Council.
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