When it comes to keeping student athletes healthy Dr. Paul Rahill, an Orthopaedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist keeps busy year around and says he sees specific injury patterns in his patients based on time of year.
"We see a lot of football injuries this time of year, because the season is just ramping up and we see the predominance of injuries early in pre-season and in the first of the season"
Dr. Rahill says about half of the injuries he sees in football players, are around the knee. He also says there are steps that can be taken to help prevent injuries.
"A preseason sports physical is mandatory by the school, to participate and they are best when done early so we can establish previous injuries or injuries that athlete may be prone to. Then it's things like exercise programs, warming up, stretching for the lower extremities, quads and knee."
While any contact sport is hard on the knees injuries don't always come from hitting says Dr. Rahill.
"It's still fairly controversial if injuries around the knee for football players are contact or non contact. Historically we thought most were contact, by getting clipped in the side of the knee but a lot of the rule changes have addressed those. What we are seeing now with the speed of play and the spread of players around the field, is that there are more non contact injuries to the knee that has to do with the position knee and foot, and surface they are playing on. We are seeing most of the injuries happen in a valgus positions, when knee goes in and foot gets caught on the turf."
Dr. Rahill says when it comes to preventing knee injuries, soccer is making headway.
"There are very specific exercise programs that have been put out by FIFA, the 11 plus program started in 1990’s for soccer players, and has shown a decrease injuries in soccer players around the knee by about half. Those type of programs haven't made it football yet but we are starting to get there."
Dr. Rahill says if your student athlete is injured and you feel they should be seen by a specialist that final decision should always rest with the parents.