Winter Sports: Tips on proper training, and prevention of injuries and concussions

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 percent of children admitted to trauma centers for winter sports injuries have been diagnosed with a head injury – the majority of them from snowboarding, sledding, skiing, ice skating or ice hockey. Pediatric sports medicine is a growing field and is a direct response to how active today’s children are in competitive and recreational sports.

As many young adults prepare to perform extreme feats in the Winter Olympic Games, many children and teens will watch and try to imitate these competitors on the slopes and ice. Experts from The Children’s Hospital in Denver offer a pediatric perspective on proper training tips as well as practical advice on how parents can recognize symptoms of and help to prevent concussions and sports injuries as awareness of these issues increases during the Winter Olympic Games. The Children’s Hospital’s sports medicine experts include:

Brooke Pengel, M.D.: medical director of the sports medicine program at The Children’s Hospital and fellowship director for Pediatric Sports Medicine. Specializing in concussions and orthopedics, Dr. Pengel has been instrumental in creating a quality service line dedicated to the comprehensive care of the school-aged athlete. During the last few years, this program has experienced unprecedented growth in clinical volume and staff. The sports medicine team is dedicated to excellence in clinical care and community education and service. In 2009, Dr. Pengel was recognized as a 5280 Magazine “Top Doctor” in sports medicine.

Frank Chang, M.D.: director of orthopedic surgery, medical director of the Hospital Sports Program (HSP), co-founder and co-medical director of the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis (CGMA) (or Gait Lab). Dr. Chang specializes in orthopedic surgery. His interest in computerized gait analysis started about 18 years ago, after observing how the Olympic Freestyle Ski Team was using technology to assist in understanding complex motions in athletes. On the weekends for the past 23 years, he has volunteered as medical director of The Children’s Hospital’s HSP, providing kids with guidance related to orthopedic issues, treatment, care in the event of injuries and encouragement on the slopes.

John Polousky, M.D.: surgical director of sports medicine at The Children’s Hospital. Dr. Polousky is a regional expert in pediatric orthopedic knee surgery and specializes in ACL reconstruction in adolescents and children; cartilage injuries; and in minimally invasive surgery of the knee, shoulder and elbow.

Each one of these experts can speak to all aspects of winter sports and injuries including:

  • More than a quarter million children each year are injured while participating in winter sports in the United States (Safe Kids USA. The Safe Kids Denver Metro Coalition is led by The Children’s Hospital.)
  • In 2004, more than 56,000 children ages 5 to 14 were taken to emergency rooms for injuries resulting from winter sports, including approximately 21,000 from snowboarding; 12,000 from sledding; 11,000 from skiing; 11,000 from ice skating; and 1,500 from snowmobile accidents (Safe Kids USA)
  • Interpreting the new concussion guidelines: http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/43/Suppl_1/i76.full.pdf+html
  • Training tips and guidelines: six weeks before the season, young athletes should begin exercising three to five times per week, with a program that emphasizes general fitness (a combination of appropriate strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and body composition)
  • The growing trend of treating the whole athlete (from education to injury prevention to nutrition to timely and appropriate response)
  • Nutrition: the need for basic nutrition and how/why sports supplements are used or should not be used is very critical for youth athletes

SOURCE The Children’s Hospital

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