An injury is an athlete’s worst nightmare. The stress of missing out on a game or letting down teammates can make matters even worse.
The best way for an athlete to avoid sports injuries is to stay balanced, said the medical director of Penn State’s Primary Care Sports Medicine clinic in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
“Early sports specialization, focusing on one sport year-round at a young age before high school, can lead to overuse injuries and burnout, neither of which keeps athletes in the game,” said Dr. Matthew L. Silvis.
Athletes depend on doctors like Silvis to avoid the panic of jeopardizing their sports career.
Silvis discovered his interest in sports medicine when he was at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. As a runner in track, Silvis saw his teammates struggle with various injuries throughout their college careers.
He was also concerned about his female teammates who struggled with the female athlete triad which, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, includes nutritional deficiency, menstrual disturbances and decreased bone mineral density. Today, Silvis spends most of his time caring for endurance athletes and treating concussions.
One of the most common injuries facing athletes, especially in contact sports, is a concussion.
“While helmets, mouth guards, neck strengthening and rule changes have all likely helped mitigate concussion risk, none is 100 percent effective and, therefore, concussion is unavoidable,” said Silvis.
According to the Center for Disease Control, reported concussions in children doubled from 2001 to 2012.
In addition to clinic work such as ultrasound guided injections, running gait analysis and casting and splinting injuries, “I also spend time teaching medical students, residents, and fellows as well as time in research and writing,” said Silvis.
Silvis also works outside the clinic in training rooms, caring for acutely injured athletes from the Hershey Bears hockey team, Lebanon Valley College and Hershey High School.
For baseball players, “The biggest risk factor for injury is over-throwing, quite common in pitchers,” said Silvis.
According to a study found in the Journal of Athletic Training, pitchers, batters and base runners accounted for 60 percent of all game injuries.
Counting and limiting the number of pitches, “is likely the best approach to minimizing the risks,” said Silvis.