Prevent Football Injuries Part II of II: Junior Football Safety Tips
This is the second of two columns intended raise the level of consciousness and to educate coaches, players and parents about the importance of injury prevention. While most high school programs have certified athletic trainers on staff, I am more concerned with the youth football programs. Often, these players are coached by a well-intended, but not well-informed parent without access to trainers or other medical personal at practices and games.
I was fortunate to have a great youth football coach. I remember Dick Holmes, coach of the Central City Indians, as a wonderful man. We worked hard, played hard and always had FUN! Good citizens were developed from our team: Mark Frattali, Scranton physician, Sandy Zanghi, local banker, Rich Goodall, postal supervisor and of course, the honorable Mayor Chris Doherty.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year more than 3.5 million sports related injuries in youngster under 15 required medical treatment at a hospital or clinic. One million of those injuries are from football and basketball alone. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons offers medical information regarding the young athlete (15 and under) and recommendations for injury prevention. High school football is different. Coaches are subject to state regulation (PIAA) and medical personal and athletic trainers are present. However, youth football players may be more vulnerable.
Young athletes are not small adults. Their bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are still developing and are vulnerable to injury.
Growth plates are sections of bone that are not completely fused. These plates are very vulnerable to injury, especially in contact sports. In some cases, an injury to a growth plate can be very serious.
Size variation in youth football is great. Within one age group, great differences in height, weight, strength, physical and mental maturity varies greatly. Don’t group players based solely on age.
Contact and overuse injuries are common in football. Contact injuries occur from an outside force such as a helmet hitting an ankle. Sprains, fractures, contusions (bumps and bruises) are examples of contact injuries. Overuse injuries occur from repetition. Little league elbow, shoulder or Achilles tendonitis are good examples.
“RICE” Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation is the best treatment for most minor injuries to provide comfort and prevent further injury until a medical professional is seen.
If the following signs are present, timely medical attention is imperative:
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This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an affiliated faculty member at the University of Scranton, PT Dept.