Preventing Spinal Injuries in Kids Sports

Call 281-633-8600 for an appointment.  This article is based on a portion of the Dr. Jay Show on 1560TheGame broadcast from Houston TX.  The show featured Dr. Benoy Benny talking with Dr. J. Michael Bennett about preventing neck and spinal injuries in young athletes.

Dr. J. Michael Bennett is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and a Fellowship Trained Sports Medicine Physician serving patients from Katy, Fort Bend County, Metro Houston and Southeast Texas from offices in Sugar Land and Houston.  He specializes in treating injuries of the shoulders, elbows, knees and certain hand and wrist injuries.  Call 281-633-8600 for an appointment.

Our special guest for the show was Dr. Benoy Benny. He is a physical medicine rehabilitation physician, and he is board certified for pain and spine as well as for minimally invasive procedures in spine. He’s also a professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Bob Lewis of 1560TheGame is also a guest on the show.

Here’s the transcript of the eighth section of the Show talking about preventing spinal injuries:

DR. BENNETT: One thing that I want to talk about today is for the younger patients out there, the younger players out there particularly in regards to neck and back, there’s a lot of injuries we see out there in football.  A lot of it has to do with improper technique especially when it comes to tackling individuals, like with the spearing technique and things like that.  And that can be devastating.  You have a young player out there and they’re not hitting someone correctly, and they’re tucking their head down and they ram right into somebody, they can actually create a fracture within the vertebra or they can pinch the nerve and that can even lead to something like paralysis.  So what are your thoughts in regards to preventing spinal injuries, Dr. Benny, are there helmets that can prevent this from happening or rolls you can use that prevent your neck from hyper-extending? 

DR. BENNY:  I think that preventing spinal injuries is always, always better than cure.  If you can work on strengthening the muscles all around your spine, that’s fantastic.  I think that will prevent a lot of injuries.  If you can work on those muscles that put you at a biomechanical disadvantage – meaning a lot of stresses in your spine – that’s a huge thing that you can do.  The helmets of today, they were just talking about this in the news recently with experiments on tougher foam to see if that would prevent it, they have actually said that it does make a difference.  I think that all of the equipment that we have in football and all the other sports is very helpful to prevent it.  But the one thing that I would really like to focus on is getting into conditioning to make sure you prevent these injuries beforehand.  And one of the other things that I tell all of my athletes is that before you get out there and you go full speed 100 percent, make sure you have gone through a training program before and make sure that you warm up and stretch beforehand.  A lot of times people do a lot of stretching beforehand and their muscles are very cold and they can actually have injuries from too much stretching before they are warmed up a little bit.  So do a little bit of warm up, then you stretch, then you go into your sports.

DR. BENNETT:  I can’t stress the importance of the sports-specific aspect of it all.  I think it’s important that the athletic trainers, the coaches, everybody be educated on the appropriate way to tackle somebody, to hit somebody, without hyper-extending or injuring their neck.  Because as I said before spinal injuries can be devastating.  It’s pretty impressive now the treatment of acute spine injuries what they’ve seen in the last few years particularly in the NFL.  I don’t know if you recall, Dr. Benny, a few years ago there was a player who fractured his vertebra and they put him on steroid immediately after the injury and the time frame within which they administered the steroid made a huge difference in regards to his recovery. 

If you have a question about preventing spinal injuries or any other sports medicine question or an orthopedic issue, please call our office at 281-633-8600 to set up an appointment to see Dr. Bennett.

Dr. J. Michael Bennett

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