Getting an injury. A good athlete doesn’t even think of the possibility of getting hurt, but it happens. And when it happens, it could be devastating to a young athlete’s psyche let alone the physical damage.
In my entire sports career, I had relatively few injuries. My prep career had a few twisted ankles, a minor muscle pull, and that was it.
In fact, I have had more injuries playing intramural sports in my 20’s and 30’s then I did during my prep career. I’ve broken a hand, dislocated a finger and stoved a few others. My lower back has locked up on me a few times and you know about my plantar fasciitis.
I’ve witnessed many injuries in my time. I don’t know how many ACL/MCL tears I’ve seen/heard. I’ve seen a compound fracture of a lower leg. And probably a few others that required big time surgeries and rehab.
But, of all the injuries that happened to me, I never had to receive a major surgery or require extensive rehab….
A few weeks ago, playing in my weekly racquetball league, I detached my distal biceps tendon doing a forehand return. I felt a pop as soon as I swung. It wasn’t extremely painful, but I knew it would require something a little more than how I normally handle injuries.
I quickly had surgery to re-attach it to my bone. It was immobilized, now is in a brace (probably for 4 weeks), and I will begin therapy sometime after Thanksgiving.
People send me their condolences, which I appreciate it, but in the big scheme of things for me, it could be much worse.
My biggest worries with this issue are the following:
- Doing tasks with my left hand (my non-dominant hand).
- Wearing this brace all the time (even when I sleep).
- Not being able to workout for the last few weeks and when I return to working out it will be very modified.
- I can’t play in my racquetball league for awhile (potentially for 5-6 months).
- I can’t do certain chores and tasks and have to ask others to do them.
There might be a few others, but that is it really.
Now, if I was a young athlete and had this injury, this could feel like it is way more devastating then what I’m telling you. Here are the concerns they have:
- 5-6 months could be a crucial blow to a young athlete’s career. Depending on when the injury occurs they could miss an entire season playing the sport they love. If this is a high school athlete (let’s say one who probably won’t play in college), this is 25% of their playing career gone. A whole season of potential fun memories, you can’t be a part of because of the injury.
- Therapy for a young athlete could be grueling. It could be painful. Mentally, will you be able to do what you need to do in therapy to regain the abilities in your body you lost due to injury? Or will you be scared to do the therapy after a few sessions cause of the mental toll it takes on you.
- Now there is concern for the athlete if you will be able to perform at the level you are accustomed to. Will you ever get back to that or will this injury permanently change that forever?
- When you finally get over that hurdle, could the injury happen again? Are you constantly worried about doing the same motion and feel that injury occur one more time?
- All this boils down to is confidence. Will you be able to regain your confidence as an athlete to do what you want to do and not worry about getting injured again?
For me, my playing career at an important level has been over for decades. If I can’t play racquetball and lift for awhile, so be it.
For these kids, high school sports is real fun and an important part of their life. Missing time playing with their friends, the painful rehab, the fear of re-injuring the body, can be mentally straining for a young person. We need to do what we can to help them through this time of need both mentally and physically.
With today’s modern medicine, there are relatively few injuries you can’t come back from and not return to playing at the same high level as before. Keep them positive and help them understand they will get through this, they could be better than what they were before.
Photo courtesy of Peter Woodman on Flickr