Preventing back-to-school injuries
As another school year begins, buying school supplies and getting your family back into a routine may be top of mind. But avoiding orthopedic injuries may not be the first thing on your to-do list. But as a pediatric surgeon, I will tell you there are several prevention strategies you can easily incorporate into your back-to-school preparation to help keep your children healthy and safe throughout the year.
Whether your child is beginning kindergarten or high school, you may be purchasing new footwear for them. When looking for shoes, in general, I recommend flat shoes with a thick sole, some amount of arch support and fit slightly wider than the foot. For the most part, the most comfortable and stable shoes will always be sneakers. Everyone’s feet are slightly different, so it may take some trial and error to find the best shoes for your child.
They come in many sizes, shapes and varieties. But the best backpacks for spine health should have two wide, well-padded shoulder straps. Straps should be adjusted and tightened so the bottom of the backpack does not sag below the lumbar spine when worn. The weight of the backpack should not exceed 15% of your child’s body weight.
When it comes to student athletes, the start of the academic year can mean an increased risk of injury regardless of the sport they play.
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are common in high school sports. They also are one of the most common injuries that require surgical treatment. The good news is that new data shows the risk of ACL rupture can be dramatically reduced in athletes who take part in an ACL prevention program. These programs, often led by coaches or athletic trainers, focus on teaching proper body mechanics as well as strengthening the muscles around the knee. Studies have shown athletes who participate in these programs have lower rates of knee injury. They have become commonplace in professional and college-level sports, and they are beginning to become more common in high schools, as well.
Concussions are, unfortunately, a common injury among student athletes. Proper prevention strategies, which cannot be overstressed, include using a helmet and mouthguard, especially in football. Repeated concussions can have a profound impact on a student athlete, not just when it comes to their ability to participate in sports but also their academic studies.
If you have any questions or concerns about other ways to keep your child safe as they head back to school or start up with sports, don’t hesitate to check in with their pediatrician.
Dr. David Fralinger is an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn.
About the Author
Dr. David Fralinger is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Children's Hospital.