Most people understand the relationship between clean water or clean air and their own health. But having a healthy environment doesn’t stop with natural ecosystems. It also includes our manmade environment – the places we work… and the places we play. One doctor says the places we play are putting us at risk. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David Hammond has the story:
Most people understand the relationship between clean water or clean air and their
But having a healthy environment doesn’t stop with natural ecosystems. It also
manmade environment. The places we work and the places we play. But one doctor
places we play are putting us at risk. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David
(sound of Cheetah parents cheering)
It’s a chilly fall morning in Canton, Michigan and the 12 soccer
fields at Independence Park are humming with activity. On this
field, the Cheetahs are playing the Dolphins. And in this battle
of nine-year-old girls, the Cheetahs seem to have the edge.
Small groups of parents huddle under blankets, sipping coffee,
and shouting encouragement. The cheering is high-spirited, but
no one seems to take the action too seriously. The biggest
decision of the day will probably be where to go for lunch after
But with increasing frequency, the next stop for these kids is not
the pizza parlor, but the emergency room. According to the U.S.
Consumer Products Safety Commission, nearly 12 million
children seek treatment for sports injuries each year.
Michael Kedroske is one of those kids. He’s a six-grader from
Dexter, Michigan. A year ago, Kedrowski played soccer for a
premiere traveling team. That ended after a head injury. His
mother Beth, says it was a freak accident.
“They were all just kind of gathered around for a water break,
getting ready to start their scrimmage, and he just happened to be
walking on the field as the other person was just kicking the ball.
Just wrong place, wrong time kind of thing.”
Michael had a headache for a couple of days and sat out from the
team. After being pain-free for a week, he started playing again.
But in his first game back, he had a relapse. After using his head
to pass the ball to a teammate, he collapsed. For the next three
months, Michael suffered constant headaches. For the next six
months, he had to limit all physical activity.
It’s just not fun at all, your sitting out from everything, and you just want to
play a sport,
but you can’t, cause, you’re even gonna get hurt more, so, really, you’ve got to be
on yourself about not doing anything that is going to effect your injury even more.”
Unfortunately, injuries like this are becoming more common.
And its not just soccer. Baseball, softball and basketball all send
hundreds of thousands of people to the emergency room each
“One of the real fallacies about sports injuries is that they’re little bumps and
that they don’t carry with them long term ramifications and there is nothing you can
That’s Dr. David Janda. He’s an orthopedic surgeon and founder of the Institute for
Preventative Sports Medicine. The Institute is a small, non-profit focused on
“The hope is when folks get our studies they realize that many of these injuries are
severe. They carry with them life long costs from an economic standpoint, but
disability as well.”
It’s a passion for Dr. Janda. He doesn’t take a salary and
volunteers his time. He says the Institute’s emphasis on injury
prevention makes it unique.
“Throughout my education, throughout high school, college, medical school, internship,
residency, fellowship, it all focused on one thing. Wait for someone to get hurt,
them to get cancer, then do something. What the Institute is all about is teaching
how to be proactive, how to identify problems before they occur, act upon them, and
prevent the negative ramifications that occur when problems develop.”
Janda’s Institute has studied the effectiveness of things like
padded soccer goalposts, breakaway bases in softball and
eyeshields in hockey. Over its fourteen year history, the Institute
has published nearly 60 such studies in peer-reviewed journals.
Most have focused on children’s sports. The studies have given
Dr. Janda a respected voice within sports medicine. A voice that
Janda’s not shy about using. He’s a frequent guest on network
television and radio shows, and he even co-hosted an episode of
the Oprah Winfrey show.
“I do a disservice to the Institute, to my efforts at the Institute, to our
researchers’ efforts at the
Institute, if I publish a study that has significant positive ramifications for the
public welfare, and
I don’t let people know about it.”
Dr. Janda’s emphasis on injury prevention is not just attracting
attention from parents, but from the private sector as well. Bill
Young is CEO and President of Plasticpak Packaging Group.
It’s one of North America’s largest manufacturers of rigid-
After learning about Janda’s work, Young thought the same
ideas could benefit his company. He saw parallels between
injury prevention in sports and injury prevention in the
workplace. He worked with Janda to identify safety hazards in
his factories. Since Plasticpak made injury prevention a priority,
Young says workers compensation claims have gone down
“Since we are self-insured. We are paying less out. Which helps tremendously and
important than that, anytime you lose valuable employees in the workplace. Due to any
downtime that they have to take. That in itself is a major interruption. And the
being as competitive as it is today. That’s been beneficial for us.”
For his part, Dr. Janda says he’s happy he’s saving companies
money, but his emphasis is on children. He wants parents and
coaches to understand the importance of injury prevention. He
also wants them to realize that small changes can make a big
difference. To help them, he’s developed a safety checklist of 20
questions. Dr. Janda says that parents can use this simple
checklist to ensure that their children have the safest possible
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m David Hammond.