Knee injuries common for high school athletes
Henry Lang-VanDerLaan, who plays on Hinsdale Central's football team, decided to wear this brace after he tore open the scar from his knee surgery a year ago, during practice this season. | Kimberly Fornek—Sun-Times Media
Five Most Common Injuries among Illinois High School Athletes
Knee injuries (more than 35 percent of all injuries)
Shoulder problems (17.5 percent)
Back pain (16.2 percent)
Wrist sprains and fractures (15.9 percent)
Concussions (14.8 percent)
Sudy done by the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association, in collaboration with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush
WHAT: Free seminar on preventing, identifying and treating high school sports injuries; open to parents, students and coaches
WHEN: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2
WHERE: Hinsdale Central High School auditorium, at 55th and Grant streets, Hinsdale
Speakers: Former Chicago Bears football player Hunter Hillenmeyer, physicians, athletic trainers and others
To register: www.rushortho.com
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:15AM
HINSDALE — Henry Lang-VanDerLaan tore a ligament in his knee during football practice last year.
“I wanted to break and go a different way, but I put too much torque on it and my foot got caught,” said the 17-year-old wide receiver for Hinsdale Central. “The injury was “excruciatingly painful.”
Lang-VanDerLaan had ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction surgery in September 2011, a month after the injury. It was a six-month recovery. He resumed playing volleyball last February. And this summer he went back to football practice.
“The knee is strong,” he said. Though he has already torn open the scar when he scraped his knee on the artificial turf during a practice.
Knee injuries are the most common injuries among Illinois high school athletes, according to a recently released survey of certified athletic trainers. About 200,000 high school athletes a year suffer ACL tears nationwide, reported the Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush physicians and the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association.
Some injuries result from a single incident, such as when a football player gets hit by another player and tears a ligament, said Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, with Midwest Orthopaedics. “That’s sort of the risk of participating in that type of sport.”
Other injures are due to overuse, Bush-Joseph, who did Lang-VanDerLaan’s ACL surgery, said.
Daniel Jones, athletic director for Hinsdale High School District 86, said, “A lot of students, instead of playing football one season, basketball the next, baseball in the spring and taking the summer off, are training all year long, often at the same sport. They are not giving their bodies time to rest.”
This may be fed by the child’s own desire to become the best at one particular sport, the coach’s desire for an athlete to excel for his team,, or the growth of the sports performance industry, Bush-Joseph suggests.
“There’s a lot of concern about the high level of competition for kids at a younger age and the stress we put on these young, developing bodies,” Jones said.
“Our trainers are instructed to make contact with the parents when a student may have suffered an injury,” Jones said. “If the student was injured, they discuss what’s the best way for the student to heal.” The decision whether or not to play is not left up to the student or his coach, Jones said.
Bush-Joseph believes young athletes should participate in a variety of sports, especially before age 14, instead of specializing in only one, which may lead to injuries from the repetitive motion of the same muscle or joint. The athlete also is more likely to “get burned out and fatigued,” which could lead to injury, he said.
Alternating between different sports will develop different skills, condition different parts of the body and a produce more enjoyable experience.
At a seminar Oct. 2 in the Hinsdale Central High School auditorium, Bush-Joseph will talk about the importance of cross-training, ways to prevent injury, and when a student is injured, what are the possible treatments.