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By Karyn Odway
As spring sports start, so do the chances of student-athletes getting injured on the playing fields. Even though most high school sports injuries are minor – such as sprains and strains – athletes are at the highest risk of getting hurt during the first month of the season, as they warm up to competitive play.
How can players avoid being sidelined by injury? Patrick Birmingham, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon with the Orthopaedic & Spine Institute and a team physician for the Chicago Bears, offers this expert advice:
To prevent an existing injury from recurring, be sure your student-athlete is fully recovered before they return to sport. Feeling better isn’t necessarily being fully healed. Getting back in the game prematurely can leave your star athlete on the bench for the rest of the season.
If treating injuries early and often nonoperatively isn’t helping, it might be time to consider surgery. Minimally invasive arthroscopic procedures are an option for such injuries as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, shoulder impingement, and cartilage damage. These surgeries could help athletes fully recover from serious injury quicker and get back in the game sooner.
Here's to winning an injury-free sports season!
Patrick Birmingham, M.D., is a sports medicine specialist and orthopaedic surgeon at NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute. His expertise is in repairing the knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow. He serves as clinical faculty for the University of Chicago and a team physician for the Chicago Bears.
Over the years, he’s been a team physician for high school, Olympic, and other professional sports teams. He’s also been a coach, currently coaching 5th and 6th-grade football at his sons’ school. He instills the approaches he professes with the athletes he coaches to keep them playing well and staying fit. He also helps weekend warriors regain their healthy life. Dr. Birmingham can be reached at (847) 866-7846. For more information, visit northshore.org/ortho.