Posted on 4/19/2021
While it is America’s favorite pastime, baseball is known for being a slower paced and long duration sport that can place strain on the body. Although this sport is typically low in intensity, it can lead to overuse injuries due to the repetitive motion of it. A pitcher can typically throw more than 100 pitches a game.1 Now imagine doing that 65+ games a season; that’s a total of more than 6,500 pitches in a year. This volume can lead to multiple injuries in pitchers. Additionally, position players combine the volume and intensity of throws with hitting and base running. So, although baseball may seem like a simple game, the different components can take a toll on the body.
Some of the most common injuries in baseball include both upper and lower body injuries.2, 3 They include:
Rotator cuff tears
Rotator cuff tears are common in baseball players, especially players who perform repetitive, high intensity throwing motions, such as pitchers. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that work together to help to rotate your shoulder and arm away from and toward the body. The act of pitching over and over can wear down the structures attached to these four muscles, leading to a break down in the long run. This then leads to the muscle tearing. If found fast enough before the tear, this injury can be helped with a licensed physical therapist. However, if the muscle is fully torn surgery will likely be needed.
The UCL is the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow; more commonly known as the Tommy John ligament. The volume of throwing in baseball players can cause added stress on the bones and tissues of the elbow and this repeated motion can lead to injures and even full and partial tears of this structure. In some cases, this injury can cause a pins and needles feeling in the ring and pinky finger, causing an athlete to not be able to grip a ball. Most cases can be fixed with rest and physical therapy; however, some cases may require surgery.
The labrum is a structure in the shoulder that helps keep the shoulder socket tight. A tear is caused by the overuse nature of baseball. This injury typically appears as the shoulder joint locking up or with weakness of the shoulder. A labral tear is typically spotted by a doctor and can be either repaired surgically or with physical therapy and rest.
Knee injuries, although less common than other higher intensity sports, are still possible in baseball. Injury normally occurs during base running. The sudden stopping, sliding and quick changes in direction can cause an athlete’s knee to give out, leading to a sprain or tear of the MCL or ACL. Injury to these ligaments typically appear with sudden pain and the sensation of popping or snapping inside the knee. Similar to UCL injuries, an ACL or MCL injury can often be fixed with physical therapy and rest. However, if the ligament is fully torn surgery is usually required.
Muscle sprain and strains
Like many other baseball injuries, muscle sprains and strains are usually due to overuse. In baseball, these types of injuries are common in the legs, arms and back. Symptoms for sprains and strains will vary based on the person and the seriousness of the injury. Typical symptoms include pain, weakness and muscle spasms, but they may also include bruising and swelling. These injuries rarely require surgery and can typically be solved with physical therapy and RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation).
With all injuries, a common theme is that working with a physical therapist can help for healing and strengthening both pre- and post-surgical intervention if necessary. If you have been injury, please request an injury screen at one of our convenient locations. With a guided treatment and exercise plan by a licensed physical therapist, you can be back to your sport in no time.
Posted on 3/19/2021
What is an athletic trainer? Often confused with personal trainers, athletic trainers are allied health care professionals recognized by the American Medical Association trained to handle the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of emergent, acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions. That’s important work! Athletic trainers work primarily in the field of sports medicine and are trained to handle injuries and conditions affecting the neuromuscular (nerve and muscle relationship) and musculoskeletal (bone and muscle relationship) systems.
Now that we have a better understanding of what an athletic trainer is, you might be wondering what an athletic trainer does day-to-day. At NovaCare, we employ many athletic trainers to provide services to local middle schools, high schools, colleges and professional teams as well as club and league tournaments. Within these settings, our athletic trainers provide services ranging from:
- Education on injury reduction and management
- Emergency care and triage
- Stretching, and other hands-on therapeutic techniques
- Develop exercise/rehabilitation programs
- Mental health and nutrition needs and refer appropriately when necessary
- Create and implement emergency action plans and return to play protocols
The goal of an athletic trainer is to prevent the athlete from getting injured in the first place. In the event that an injury occurs, they examine and treat the athlete/individual and if the injured party requires further diagnostic testing or follow-up of any sort, they refer to the proper specialist and work in tandem with them to ensure proper care.
When the time comes to rehabilitate an athlete’s injury, our athletic trainers create a treatment plan and collaborate with one of the many wonderful physical therapists that work for our organization. They are also integral in being one of the first on scene when an athlete suffers a concussion. Athletic trainers provide both sideline and full concussion evaluations. They are able to conduct baseline tests which primarily measure the neurocognitive and/or vestibular-ocular (eyes and balance) motor system and help direct care to the proper specialist, communicate with parents, the school nurse and advisors/teachers when needed. As the athlete continues post-concussion treatment, athletic trainers help them progress through the return-to-play protocol to ensure a safe return to sport.
Developing and implementing emergency action plans and other important procedures regarding return to play is an important part of an athletic trainer’s role. These procedures and policies include acclimatization, inclement weather including heat management, COVID-19 and others to help keep athletes safe. In addition, they maintain inventory and assist with budgets and provide ongoing communication to coaches, school administration and parents.
It’s also important to note that while the focus here is the athletic trainer’s role with athletes, they also provide the same clinical expertise to many companies working with the “industrial athlete.”
By: Josh Cramer, LAT, Germantown Academy, Philadelphia, PA
Posted on 2/17/2021
Is your child’s e-learning set-up ergonomically correct? Poor ergonomics can lead to poor posture, resulting in neck pain, low back pain, tightness of muscles and weakening of other muscles. It can also cause headaches, tendonitis in the hands/wrists and carpal tunnel syndrome.
With COVID-19 presenting new ways in which schools are conducting class, it is important to maintain proper sitting posture to prevent muscle straining and improve attention. Age does not discriminate against poor ergonomics, especially if long periods of time are spent sitting in front of a computer. Our physical and occupational therapists offer five simple tips that can help you ensure that your child is maintaining the proper sitting posture during e-learning.
Tip 1: Ensure that your child’s feet are planted firmly on the ground. If their feet do not reach the ground, use a text book, plastic container or cardboard box for them to rest their feet on.
Tip 2: Adjust the height of the chair to ensure that there is a 90 degree bend at the knees and hips while sitting. Changing the depth of the seat can alter the angle at the hips. Consider using a pillow or rolled towel to keep the hips bent.
Tip 3: Elbows should rest gently at the side with forearms reaching just forward to the computer, allowing your child’s back to remain against the backing of the chair. If the elbows and shoulders are elevated, try lowering the height of the desk or increasing the height of the chair.
Tip 4: Elevate the screen of the computer so that your child is looking straight forward. Place your device on textbooks, laundry baskets or couch cushions. When it comes time to type, lower the device back to the desk or table. Remember, there should be a 90 degree bend in the elbows to allow the arms to rest close to thigh height while typing.
Tip 5: Kids are wired to play and move! Have your child get up and move around when given breaks during class. Encouraging these movement breaks will improve your child’s attention, regulation and body awareness to help maintain good posture during learning.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s posture or development, please contact our Kids pediatric therapy centers today to request an appointment.
By: Courtney Engel, M.S., OTR/L, and Meredith Krifka, P.T., DPT, c/NDT. Courtney is an occupational therapist and Meredith is a physical therapist with RUSH Kids Pediatric Therapy in Fullerton, Illinois.
RUSH and NovaCare are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
Posted on 1/22/2021
While sports might continue to look a little differently this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety for our athletes remains a top priority. Our athletic trainers and physical therapists provide crucial education for the protection of our athletes while they are participating in their long-awaited sports seasons, as well as provide comprehensive therapy to aid in the recovery of any injuries sustained.
One of the most prominent, but often less understood, sports injuries is the concussion. There are many myths and misconceptions about concussions, but they can occur from any impact to the head, neck or body. A concussion starts with a physical impact and can be a direct hit to the head or an indirect hit, such as the rebound of the head/neck in a football tackle. The obvious hits are the easiest to recognize; however, the less obvious hits are harder to catch and may lead to missed symptoms.
While not all hits lead to a concussion, it is important that we are on the lookout concussion symptoms. Parents, coaches and teammates should be educated on common symptoms in order to prevent the athlete from playing through injury. Symptoms can include:
- Feeling foggy
- Difficulty thinking
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Blurred or double vision
The presentation of these symptoms may start showing immediately or be delayed up to 24 hours.
It is also important that a thorough assessment be performed to rule out that an injury has not occurred before returning to play. Playing through a possible concussion or missing concussion symptoms overall is a safety concern and could delay return to sport. Always think, “When in doubt, sit them out.” This assures the athlete rests initially for 24-48 hours to allow the body and brain to rest and heal.
During this resting period, to the athlete should avoid mental and visual strain as well as excessive activity. This includes anything that increases your symptoms, such as watching television, playing video games and being on the computer and/or phone.
Most concussions will resolve themselves within 7-10 days, but approximately 15-20% of patients present with lasting symptoms – most notably headaches – which may be the result of delayed healing. Initially, resting the brain helps decrease prolonged symptoms and extended healing times. After the initial resting phase, best practice is to begin an active recovery. Physical therapy intervention can set athletes up with an appropriate exertion program that is safe for the brain.
Our centers offer a variety of opportunities to work with therapists specializing in concussion rehabilitation who help to establish the underlying cause of prolonged symptoms. Each comprehensive examination focuses on the most common factors that may lead to delayed healing, including physiologic recovery (Is your brain healed enough to tolerate activity) and visual and vestibular involvement (Are your eyes or inner ears playing a role in your symptoms? Is the neck involved?).
Our evaluation and treatments are backed by evidence that will help patients recover more quickly in order to safely return to symptom-free participation in their respective sports.
By: Megan Brainerd, P.T., DPT, COMT. Megan is a physical therapist with Select Physical Therapy in Summerville, SC.
Select Physical Therapy and NovaCare are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.