Physical impairments need to be taken seriously, but will not hold athletes back
Every 25 seconds an athlete visits the hospital or emergency room due to a sports related injury. That’s 1.35 million athletes a year, according to USA Today.
With 32 sports offered, UAHS has had its fair share of sports injuries, which can have lasting effects on students’ health.
Senior basketball captain Danny Hummer underwent a double hip surgery in Vail, Colorado over the summer in order to correct his femoroacetabular impingement. This means that his hips were oval instead of round and there was no space between the thigh bone and hip. Due to the repeated stress of playing basketball he also tore a labrum (cover) in each hip.
“[Dr. Marc Philippon of the Steadman Clinic in Vail] reshaped my hips arthroscopically, [he] cut space to create hip/thigh clearance, and put multiple anchors in place on each hip to repair the labrum,” Hummer said.
Additionally, Hummer also had thumb surgery to repair a torn ligament which occurred during his basketball season.
“For a while, I looked like I had been run over by a bus, with uneven crutches to allow both the hips and the thumb to heal at the same time. Physical therapy started the day after each surgery and [still] continues today,” Hummer said. “Three surgeries in six weeks takes a toll on your body and mind.”
Junior Caroline Mead has also suffered setbacks in basketball when she tore her ACL last February. Her recovery took six months, including surgery as well as daily physical therapy.
Basketball has the second highest concussion rate, following football and preceding soccer according to USA Today. Freshman Mary Brigid Ginn has sustained three concussions in the last year and a half, all from soccer.
“[When I had] my first concussion I got hit in the head with the ball and when I went down, my neck went back and that’s what caused the concussion…The second time I wasn’t fully healed and I went back and I did it again,” Ginn said. “The third time I got hit in the face with an elbow and I broke a bone on my eyebrow and got a black eye and a concussion and that was my most severe one.”
Ginn has missed an average of three months of school per concussion. This is because like any other sports injury the injured portion of the body can’t be used, including the brain.
“Concussions are different than other injuries because you have to miss school and it’s definitely more dangerous because it has to do with your long term health,” she said.
Ginn has also suffered three broken ankles in addition to her concussions. Every day she ices and stretches to strengthen her ankle to ensure her own safety while playing or practicing. Ginn advises athletes to be cautious before returning to their sports after sustaining an injury.
“Make sure you’re fully healed before you go back…it’s a long process but you have to be cautious and careful because you don’t want to go back too soon to reinjure yourself,” Ginn said. “Use it as a time to learn from the coaches because you’ll hear a lot more from the coaches perspective because you’re helping out with practice.”
Hummer is now working toward being able to play basketball as well as baseball this school year. He advises athletes to question injuries to ensure adequate treatment and avoid later complications.
“Listen to your body and don’t stop searching for the cause of the symptoms until you find it—because you will eventually find it,” Hummer said. “Therapists and parents and coaches all have their own ideas, and most of the time they mean well, but only the player knows what [their] body is telling [them].”
Despite the best medical attention, no athlete is guaranteed complete physical safety.
“There is always a possibility when returning to the sport that caused your injury for it happening again,” Mead said.
However, athletes like Ginn, Mead, and Hummer don’t let injuries hold them back.
“I believe I will have the chance to play in a way I could not in the last two seasons. I’m not fully healed yet and I’ve only begun to run, but the doctors and therapists tell me I should be able to play without pain and to my full potential,” Hummer said. “I’m going to play the way I used to play until I was hurt, aggressively and tenaciously.”
Image Caption:Percentage of sports impairments to the human body in 2012
Graphic By TJ Kennedy