Posts Tagged ‘basketball’

Weekend Warriors Most Likely to Tear an Achilles Tendon

If you’re a man who exercises mostly on the weekend, a so-called “Weekend Warrior,” you have a higher risk of rupturing your Achilles tendon while playing sports than other Americans.

Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star basketball player who ruptured his Achilles tendon earlier this month, is in good company, according to a new study of Achilles tendon injuries in the US.Kobe Bryant Achilles injury

Basketball leads to about 1/3 of all Achilles ruptures in the US, followed by tennis (9%) and football (8%), report researchers in the April issue of Foot & Ankle International.

They reviewed 406 records from patients diagnosed with Achilles tendon injuries from August 2000 to December 2010.

On average, the patients who ruptured their Achilles tendon were 46 years old, mostly men (83%), and were injured playing sports (more than 2/3rds).

Older patients (over age 55) and those whose body mass index (BMI) was greater than 30 (considered obese) were more likely to have non-sports related causes and were more likely to not have been diagnosed correctly until more than one month after the injury.

More than 1/3 of the tendon ruptures not caused by sports occurred at work.

When the diagnosis was missed, it was usually because the initial diagnosis was an ankle sprain.

“Delayed diagnosis and treatment have been shown to result in poorer outcomes,” says lead author Steven Raikin, MD, of the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia, PA.

“Older individuals, and those with a higher BMI, should be evaluated carefully if they have lower leg pain or swelling in the Achilles tendon region.”

Re-rupture of the same tendon occurred in 5% of the group, and 6% of the study’s population had previously ruptured the other leg’s tendon.

The study supports previous findings that an Achilles tendon rupture on one leg increases the likelihood of a rupture on the other leg.

When the same tendon was re-ruptured, 85% of those injuries had not been treated surgically earlier.

Signs of an Achilles Rupture

One sign of an Achilles rupture is the inability to stand on your toes.

However, this test is not completely reliable.

Also, when you walk, your foot may turn out to the side.

A ruptured Achilles tendon can be confused with a partial rupture because it may cause little pain at first.

In fact, an Achilles rupture is quite often misdiagnosed.

The only foolproof way to know if you have ruptured this tendon is to lie on your stomach with your foot off the end of a bed, toes pointing down, and have someone squeeze your calf.

The front of the foot normally will move down.

If there is no flex in the foot, then the tendon is torn.

You can also compare the two legs.

Squeeze the uninjured leg first to observe the flexing movement, and then squeeze the injured leg to see whether it moves.

As this new study shows, if you injure your Achilles tendon, getting to a doctor sooner than later will speed your recovery.

Teenage Concussions: When In Doubt, Sit it Out

Teenage boys who play football suffer more concussions than any other high school athletes, but girls who play soccer and basketball, and boys who wrestle, play ice hockey or lacrosse also are at risk of head injury.

Nearly half (47%) of concussions among high school athletes happen on the football field, according to a new study published in the January issue of American Journal of Sports Medicine.

This data comes from a large, national sample of US high schools who reported injury data for 20 sports during the 2008-2010 academic years.

“Although interest in sports-related concussions is usually focused on full-contact sports like football and ice hockey, concussions occur across a wide variety of high school sports,” conclude the authors from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, led by researcher Natalie McIlvain.

Most of the head injuries happened when players collided with each other, but even some children in non-contact sports, such as softball, gymnastics, cheerleading and swimming, suffered blows to the head.

Girls having a 70% higher concussion rate than boys in “gender-comparable” sports.

It’s not clear why, but it may have to do with lesser neck strength among girls, said Christy Collins, a senior research associate at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“The real danger is returning to play too soon,” Collins says.

To prevent concussions, young athletes should learn to play by the rules of the game and be in good physical shape when they start playing, writes Jane Gillett, MD, in Brainline

“Someone who is unable to keep up with the pace of the game is more likely to get hurt,” writes Gillett.

“And practicing the skills of the game in a non-competitive manner through drills and structured workouts help athletes hone the necessary skills like being aware of where others are in play, where the ball is, and ways to improve balance, mobility, and hand/eye coordination.

Another important component is to teach your young athlete sportsmanship.

That means not to take things said or done as a personal attack and not to respond to an aggressive act by becoming more aggressive themselves.

Being a role model in ‘turning the other cheek’ will help demonstrate this behavior.”

The coach should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion — being dazed, confused, stunned, or even experiencing a brief loss of consciousness, according to Gillett.

Other symptoms include headache, dizziness, and transitory memory loss of the event or of events earlier that day.

“The coach should then keep the player out of the game and future games until the effects of the concussion are truly gone … and only with an official doctor’s note of approval,” writes Gillett.

“For players, coaches, and parents, the philosophy to remember is: when in doubt, sit it out.”

Warm-up Exercises Reduce Sports Injuries in Teenage Athletes

Special neuromuscular warm-up exercises done before soccer and basketball practices can help teenage female athletes reduce their number of leg injuries.

Almost 1 million teenage girls play high school soccer and basketball each year.

But an estimated 1 out of 3 sustains a soccer- or basketball-related sports injury.

Knee injuries are the most common cause of permanent disability in female high school basketball players, accounting for up to 91% of season-ending injuries and 94% of injuries requiring surgery, according to researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago.

They invited 258 coaches from Chicago Public Schools to participate in a study to see whether a specialized warm-up program could reduce lower extremity injuries.

Overall, 90 coaches and 1,492 athletes, predominantly from low-income, urban populations, participated in the study, which was reported in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Coaches in the intervention group attended a 2-hour training session 2 weeks prior to the start of the 2006-2007 season.

After learning how to implement a 20-minute neuromuscular warm-up before team practices and a shorter pregame version, the coaches in the intervention group used the prescribed warm-up before an average of 80% of practices.

The control coaches stuck to their standard warm-up protocol, including no warm-up exercises and having athletes jog or warm up on their own.

The results show that athletes in the intervention group had about half as many lower extremity injuries (50) as those in the control group (96).

And those in the neuromuscular warm-up group had a 34% decrease in non-contact ankle sprains as compared to the control group.

The neuromuscular training program combined progressive strengthening with plyometric, balance, and agility exercises.

Coaches instructed the female athletes on how to land softly, without excessive side-to-side movement and with flexed hips and knees.

One outstanding question is whether coaches will continue to implement this warm-up consistently for several seasons, or whether retraining will be needed.

I’ve got a personal interest since my 14-year-old daughter Sarah just finished her first season as a starter on the varsity soccer team, and began basketball practice yesterday.

I plan to send the school’s athletic director the results of this study and a PDF of a similar type of training program that has been shown to enhance performance and prevent injuries.

Going Pro for Ronny Turiaf Was No Slam Dunk

My latest cover story for Heart Insight (February 2011 issue) is about Ronny Turiaf, the veteran basketball player who had a serious heart problem that nearly benched his pro career. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Anyone who watches Ronny Turiaf play basketball can plainly see he puts his heart and soul into each game. But fans may not realize that a life-threatening heart condition nearly ended his professional career before it began. His own health scare and successful open-heart surgery inspired the New York Knicks center to become a passionate advocate for heart-health awareness.

After a stellar college career at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, Ronny was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the 2005 National Basketball Association Draft. A routine physical examination turned up a heart abnormality, and an echocardiogram confirmed there was a bulge in his aorta right at the root, where the artery connects to the left ventricle of the heart. The condition was deemed serious enough to require surgery.

“My surgeon gave me two choices — not play basketball again and do limited physical activities, or have surgery. It was impossible for me to stop playing basketball and not continue to help my family,” says Ronny, who had left his home on the French island of Martinique at the age of 14 to play high school basketball in France. He chose the surgery without hesitation.