Doctors working with high school athletes to prevent injuries

- Now that school is back in session, a lot of kids are back in organized activities. Many kids are playing the same sport year-round, which leaves them vulnerable to overuse injuries.

That’s why Twin Cities Orthopedics is partnering with a number of local high schools to teach kids how to cross-train and stay injury-free.

“I think we do a better job with the head up from USA football teaching the proper way to tackle and block,” said Reed Boltmann, head coach of Edina football.

Boltmann said there’s less contact in practice, leaving more room for rehab when a player does get hurt.

“We have to do a good job rehabbing and be smart with the kid when they are ready,” he said. “We let them back in when they are physically and mentally ready to go.”

Junior Henry Brooks was one of those kids.

“It’s like a six-month recovery, so I couldn’t do a winter sport,” Brooks said.

He dislocated his shoulder in a non-sports related accident, but with football, he kept getting re-injured. After one surgery and a lot of time off, Brooks still wears extra gear now.

“Well, I’m wearing this sully brace right now,” he said. “It restricts my range of motion, so hopefully I don’t put myself in position to dislocate my shoulder.”

He has that and one concerned mom protecting him.

“After the game against Eden Prairie, my mom texted me several times, ‘did your shoulder come out?’” Brooks said.

Beyond worry, parents are an important part of injury prevention. Kids who do the same sport year-round, year after year risk overuse injuries.

“Kids are in more structured activities, so we need to be smarter about what we let them do and how frequently. It certainly has an impact on injuries,” said Dr. Greg Lervick, an orthopedic surgeon. “An example would be the overhead athlete that plays football and baseball – you want to get them away from any throwing activities.”

Lervick said rest periods are good for growing muscles and that any sport – not just contact sports – can put athletes at risk for injuries.

“There are several things you can do: approach cross-training by doing different activities, having appropriate rest, rehydration, replenishing periods […] and the off season. Tissue is maturing and growing and needs to recover in the off season,” he said.

Not only is Lervick seeing the aftermath of an injury, he’s on the field with the team on Friday nights.

Twin Cities Orthopedics partners with nine area high schools to make injury prevention part of the training plan.

“You have to be diligent and aware, and that’s what working with us in the field is about – keeping the awareness up and the antennae up,” Lervick said.

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