Experts at the Weston Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center are coming together with the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, National Athletic Trainers' Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association and Safe Kids USA to support the Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention campaign.
Orthopedic sports medicine specialist and surgeon Dr. Shafic Sraj, of the Sports Medicine Center, is spearheading the campaign in Lewis County. Sraj has completed several fellowships in orthopedic surgery including one in sports medicine at Penn State.
The campaign educates athletes, parents, trainers, coaches and healthcare providers about the rapid increase in youth sports injuries, the necessary steps to help reverse the trend and the need to keep young athletes healthy. STOP Sports Injuries campaign highlights include teaching proper prevention techniques, discussing the need for open communication between everyone involved in young athletes' lives, and encouraging those affected to sign The Pledge. The campaign website and pledge are available at www.STOPSportsInjuries.org.
Sports injuries among young athletes are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high school athletes, alone, account for an estimated two million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations every year.
"In our community," Sraj says, "we face the same type of issues like everywhere else. Coaches, parents, and athletes alike want to compete and win. Everybody is expected to tough it, but this comes with a risk. A risk of missing a serious injury by covering it up till it is too late. Over the last couple of months, I have seen missed fractures, overuse injuries, and a negative atmosphere. One child refused to have his thumb fixed so that he would not miss his basketball season. Another continued to exercise against medical advice despite continued effort to educate her on her problem."
It is important for coaches, parents, and athletes to see the flaw in this thinking.
"We need to change the current atmosphere where it is all about winning and staying on the field no matter what the price is. The price might be too dear," he concluded.
The high rate of youth sports injuries is fueled by an increase in overuse and trauma injuries and a lack of attention paid to proper injury prevention. According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.
"Regardless of whether the athlete is a professional, an amateur, an Olympian or a young recreational athlete, the number of sports injuries is increasing - but the escalation of injuries in kids is the most alarming," said Dr. James Andrews, president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) and STOP Sports Injuries Co-Campaign Chair. "Armed with the correct information and tools, today's young athletes can remain healthy, play safe, and stay in the game for life."
Supporting the STOP Sports Injuries campaign are the country's leading sports medicine organizations along with professional athletes and business leaders who have signed on as members of the campaign's Council of Champions.
This Council will help raise additional awareness about this growing epidemic of youth sports injuries. Some of the founding members of the Council include former Olympic champions Christie Rampone, Eric Heiden and Bonnie Blair, professional golfer Jack Nicklaus, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr, MLB baseball player John Smoltz, NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.