World Renown Doctor Calls For Coach Education On Injury Prevention & Awareness.
Dr. James Andrews has treated thousands of athletes, and beat the drum for for years on how to protect our youth athletes. His solution is worthy as a step to reverse a devastating trend.
Welcome to edition 164 of The Physical Movement. Our archive is growing as is feedback and comments, so thank you. When The Physical Movement was launched in May 2020, the intent was to address topics and provide insight on youth sport, leadership and sport performance. Over the course of 163 editions, we have developed an archive of resources and education with contributions from multiple experts from different parts of the world. I thank you for your feedback and continue to encourage discussion as we have much work to do in turning around the fortunes, mindset and best practices in youth sport. Thanks for spending part of your Sunday with us!
In February, we documented the growing trend and concern around youth athletes not only getting injured but also playing with pain.
The statistics on youth sport injuries are sobering. The below taken from an Medscape orthopaedic l journal.
In the 2010 school year, over 7.6 million high school students participated in sports that led to an estimated 1.4 million injuries. Of these, about 680,000 injuries occurred in practice and 740,000 injuries occurred in competition, suggesting that injury prevention is inadequately highlighted during practice. An earlier study estimated approximately 2 million injuries and half a million doctor visits in this population. When we expand the population definition, there are an estimated 30-45 million youth athletes in the United States, and sports is the leading cause of injury in adolescents.
Let that sink in a little bit. While the stats are from 12 years ago, the trend is still strong in this direction.
Sports is the leading cause of injury in adolescents.
There are a number of reasons why a young athlete would play despite not feeling right, and that is an issue in itself, but the fact they are getting injured at a high rate of frequency necessitates action.
Dr. James Andrews, 80, is a co-founder of the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) a non-profit institute dedicated to injury prevention, education and research in orthopaedic and sports medicine. He has mentored more than 314 orthopaedic/sports medicine Fellows and more than 84 primary care sports medicine Fellows who have trained under him through these Sports Medicine Fellowship Programs. Doctor Andrews is internationally known and recognized for his skills as an orthopaedic surgeon as well as his scientific and clinic research contributions in knee, shoulder and elbow injury prevention and treatment. He has treated thousands of athletes, many high profile who make a living in sport and witnessed first hand the increase in injuries starting at the younger levels.
Recently Dr. Andrews spoke at a conference to athletic trainers, as documented here, in Louisiana and had a strong message about the importance of injury awareness and prevention as an important step in addressing this trend.
• Overuse injuries have increased 10-fold in young athletes since 2000. The number of younger athletes having ACL and Tommy John surgeries continues to soar.
• Improper technique, ill-fitting equipment, training errors and coach/parental pressure contribute to youth sports injuries.
• There should be pitch counts for youth baseball and softball. The notion that softball’s underhand motion is natural and limits injuries is a myth.
• Minimum time for a youth/teen athlete to return to play after an ACL surgery is nine months. The chance of an injury to the same knee or the other knee rises significantly with earlier return to play.
“They (athletes ages 14-and-under) should have a two-month break with no organized leagues or intense training,” Andrews said. “Three to four would be better. Do conditioning, flexibility and strength work.
“Youth sports is a multi-billion industry. Parents mean well, and God bless them. So much of what they (family) do socially is wrapped up in sports. They think when their child gets injured, the sooner they have surgery the better, they will be fixed and that is not true.”
One other sobering take from Andrews:
Studies show that when pressure or burnout prompts athletes to quit sports before high school, they don’t come back. And those individuals are less likely to be active adults.
The pain and suffering in young people being less likely to be active adults is perhaps the most devastating. This alone has haunted generations for the last 25 years and will continue to cost us in many ways unless we can start to reverse this. This brings us back to solutions that can contribute to change the trend.
Dr. Andrews feels it is important to address the preponderance of injuries as follows
1. The need for break time during the year for our athletes, where they can focus on rest, conditioning and building strength.
The Physical Movement is proponent of developing physical literacy prior to specialization for healthy development over the long term.
The 2nd thing Dr. Andrews is a proponent of, is the establishment of accreditation on injury prevention for youth coaches.
2. Sports organizations to adopt sports injury education for youth coaches.
“You cannot teach injury prevention or detection in two hours. But a two-hour class is a start,” Andrews said. “It shows (youth coaches) what to look for when a player gets hurt. It also teaches coaches about other things, including liability, that many of them don’t realize.”
An accreditation example is S.T.O.P. (Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention), initiated by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) in early 2007. Dr. Andrews is a founding board member.
Part of the blueprint for organizations and coaches has to include education on injury prevention and awareness. The health of the young athlete must be a pillar in their development.
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Dr. Andrews has been beating this drum for a while, evidenced from this clip 12 years ago on the topic: