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Saturday Morning Sports Injury Clinic Gives Families Solutions to Friday Night Injuries

By Brant Sachleben, MD
Co-Medical Director, Arkansas Children's Sports Medicine 
Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, UAMS

The best part of my job is seeing athletes return to play. That's always the goal of the Arkansas Children's Sports Medicine team – helping athletes fully heal and resume their career on the field or in the gym.

Now that football season is here, we're seeing an increase in acute injuries – from the quarterback who took a hard hit to the cheerleader who fell from a stunt. We see band members with strains and sprains, too.

I hope your child has an all-star season that ends just as healthfully as it started. Here are my top tips for reducing the risk of an injury over the next few weeks:
•    Hydrate like crazy. Drink plenty of fluids, even if it doesn't seem too hot. Remind your teen to drink water and sports beverages before, during and after practice and play. (Avoid energy drinks, though.)
 

•    Wear protective gear. Pads for the neck, chest, shoulders, elbow, knees and chins should fit properly. Don't ever neglect your helmet.
 

•    Take a break. It's a good idea to take a day off each week to allow an athlete's body some recovery time. Tell your child rest is a good thing!
 

•    Condition, condition, condition. Strengthen those muscles using recommended exercises. Talk to an athletic trainer about the safest ways to do this.
 

•    Feel pain? Tell a professional, whether it is the team doc or athletic trainer. Don't try to power through. Encourage your developing athlete to listen to their body's signals. 
 

•    Focus on flexibility. Stretching is an important part of daily training.
 

•    Avoid re-injury by allowing any issue to heal completely before your favorite athlete returns to play. Wait for your physician's approval before giving the green light – even if your child is anxious to get back out there.
 

•    Re-enter play gradually after a sports injury. Going too fast increases the chance for another injury. Remind your child they'd rather take it slow than go back to the hospital!

Playing it safe doesn't always protect athletes from injuries unfortunately. Some are going to happen, no matter how careful your teen is.

Athletes don't have to wait until the week after a game to have access to the best in orthopedic care. They can visit Arkansas Children's Saturday Morning Sports Injury Clinic every week in the fall from 9-11 AM. This year, it will run through Nov. 19.
Teens and adolescents aren't slightly younger adults. They need specialized care because they're still growing. Their growth plates may still be open. Their muscles may be injured from overuse because of intense training. This is why it's important to see a pediatric sports medicine specialist. 

Four other pediatric specialists also see patients at the Arkansas Children's Saturday Morning Sports Injury Clinic, and we're supported by a team of athletic trainers who help families understand why the issue happened and how they can prevent re-injury in the future.

Last year was our first season to offer the Saturday Morning Sports Injury Clinic, and it was immediately obvious there was a need. We saw knee and ankle injuries just about every week, but we also treated head injuries, broken fingers and torn ACLs. We were able to get every one of those athletes the specific treatment they needed, including follow-ups and immediate surgical care in some case.
We'll see acute injuries on a walk-in basis for athletes up to age 26. And this year we'll run the clinic even longer into the season, so families can be confident they have a Saturday morning solution if there's any problem at all on Friday night.

If your son or daughter is injured on Friday night, you can walk in on Saturday mornings through Nov. 19, from 9-11 AM, without an appointment. Just go to the main Arkansas Children's Hospital entrance at 1 Children's Way and head to the Orthopedic Clinic to the left of the red elevators. You can also call (501) 364-GAME to plan ahead.
 

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