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The LEAP Student Blog

'Why is Sports Medicine Education Important for High School Athletes?' by Rocky Srinivasan, Eastside Prep
 3/1/2023 12:00:00 AM

Eastside Prep, Class of 2024

In Washington State, there are around 175,000 students who participate in high school athletics; however, according to the CDC, it is estimated that about 50% of these students (~87,500 athletes) have sustained an injury at some point during their high school career. Injuries are the number one cause of missed playtime in sports and can derail seasons and even end careers. The most common injuries in high school sports are pulled muscles and concussions. A pulled muscle can require three to six weeks of recovery time, which can take athletes out of an entire season. A concussion generally requires two weeks of recovery but returning to sports prematurely can cause lifetime health problems. However, both of these common injuries are preventable given the right procedures and education.

The best way to prevent minor muscle strains is through stretching before and after exercise of any kind. Most coaches will require a warmup before starting practice, but cooldown stretching after practice or training can help prevent muscle pulls and strains over the course of the entire season. This can decrease soreness by reducing lactic acid buildup in the body and relaxing tense muscles.

However, concussion treatment is more complex and the answer to concussion prevention isnt clear. It is estimated that 10% of student athletes experience a concussion during a given season, and many of these injuries go unreported and undiagnosed, which leads to mismanagement and premature return to activity. This can lead to prolonged symptoms and overall long-term brain function consequences.

The WIAA’s policy on concussion states that all coaches must be educated on concussion symptoms, which helps to diagnose concussions faster. However, there is no requirement for baseline testing, such as ImPACT testing. At Eastside Prep, all athletes are required to complete an ImPACT test prior to the start of the season. ImPACT testing is a neurocognitive performance test that is analyzed and referenced in case an injury to the head should occur. This test measures reaction time, problem solving skills, and critical thinking, and the results form a baseline score. The athlete must reach close to this score again in order to return to play following a concussion. These cognitive baseline tests are crucial in determining if an athlete is ready to return to their sport and can decrease the risk of reinjury rates and premature returns.

While athletic trainers play a critical role in injury prevention, many student athletes are not educated on the importance of warm up stretching, and how to reduce the chance of injury before it happens. Along with this, around 50% of all high school injuries go unnoticed, due to the athlete trying to “play through” the injury instead of addressing it. This can be combated with awareness on injury prevention and diagnosis, because in high school sports, health and safety of the athlete is the main goal. Understanding how stretching helps prevent minor injuries can influence the decisions of many student athletes. Reporting concussion symptoms to your athletic trainer can help avoid long term brain damage and health issues. At Eastside Prep, we do not have a sports medicine class yet, which should be taught in all schools and taken by athletes, in order to promote injury prevention methods and treatments.

Overall, while injuries are a problem in high school sports in Washington, and across the country, they can be avoided through education and awareness on sports medicine.

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March 2023

3/29/2023 'Shifting the Spotlight,' by Drew Fialho, Lake Washington HS
3/13/2023 'Pursuit of Excellence,' by Joey Lurie, Mercer Island HS
3/1/2023 'Why is Sports Medicine Education Important for High School Athletes?' by Rocky Srinivasan, Eastside Prep

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