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Dr. Max Gomez: Handling Youth Sports Injuries On The Sidelines

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — March Madness may be over but many young basketball players are still dealing with injuries that they suffered on the court.

As CBS 2′s Dr. Max Gomez reported, many basketball injuries could be handled courtside if schools had enough athletic trainers.

R.J. Mehan is just finishing seventh grade. Mehan had to sit out part of the basketball season due to a broken arm, and once he got back in the lineup he faced even more challenges.

“I’ve pulled a couple muscles. Actually, recently, I just got an avulsion which is when you pull a muscle and it pulls out a piece of the bone too,” he said.

Suffering an injury on the court is not uncommon in teen basketball players, according to a new study by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Experts charted high school basketball injuries between 2005 and 2011, and found that more than a million teenagers were treated for injuries by athletic trainers, but 1.5-million were treated in emergency departments.

“There’s a lot of injuries that happen that are winding up in urgent cares and emergency departments that don’t need to be there,” Kerry Waple, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, explained.

Athletic trainers get to know players and work with them on a daily basis by treating them when they are injured, and rehabilitating them so they can get back into the game safely, Waple explained.

The problem is that not all schools employ athletic trainers.

“In the high school setting there are about 42 percent of U.S. high schools that have athletic trainers. In the middle school setting I think it’s even less,” Lara McKenzie, PhD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said.

McKenzie, who led the study, said that while athletic trainers can’t treat every case they can make the system more efficient by only sending players to the doctor when it’s necessary, and only allowing them to return to the court when it’s safe.

The American Medical Association called for all high school sports programs to have a physician director and an athletic trainer, but fifteen years later, less than half of all schools have them.

The issue is usually cost, meaning that schools have to weigh budget concerns against the safety of their student athletes.

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