If the ongoing concussion controversy in the National Football League has one silver lining, it’s the increased attention paid to sports injuries at all levels of the game, from pro ball to pee-wee leagues. And as children around the United States head back to school, many of them will also head back to the locker room as well.
NFL players are likewise gearing up for another football season. In Miami, ESPN reports that the Dolphins are experimenting with a high-tech sports performance program designed to prevent sports injuries before they occur. The team now employs two sports performance specialists, a sports science analyst, and a nutritionist. Plus, they’re using futuristic software that tracks players’ health and performance, then designs individualized training programs.
The program even generates a custom-made sports drink based on your health data.
Wayne Diesel doesn’t just have the most masculine name imaginable, he’s also the Dolphin’s new director of sports performance. Previously, he worked with the the English Premier League. He says soccer clubs there wanted to prevent injuries to protect their financial investment in players. That way, when the club sells that player, they don’t lose money. And that’s how Diesel learned that focusing on sports performance could prevent many injuries from happening in the first place.
“We were spending less time with injured players because we had fewer injuries,” Diesel said. “Then we started looking after the fit players more, in the sense of keeping them fit, not waiting until they had an injury to treat.”
Of course, high school football teams can’t rely on resources like that to protect teen players. Every year, 12 million young people in the U.S. suffer a sports injury, which cost the country an estimated $33 billion in healthcare costs annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 2.6 million kids and teens end up in emergency rooms because of such injuries.
The most common sports injuries include strains and sprains, heat injuries, and stress fractures. Parents who want to keep their kids safe should make sure their young athletes have regular checkups with their doctor, stay hydrated, and practice warm-ups and cool-downs before practice and games.