Doctor Works to Prevent Sports Injuries

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
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. But one doctor
says the
places we play are putting us at risk. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David
Hammond has
the story:

(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
the game.

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
bruises and
that they don’t carry with them long term ramifications and there is nothing you can
do to
prevent them.”

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
sports injuries.

“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,
wait for
them to get cancer, then do something. What the Institute is all about is teaching
people on
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-
plastic containers.

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
nearly 20%.

“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
sports environment.

For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m David Hammond.

Related Links

Old Tires Hit the Gridiron

Great Lakes residents use more than two million tires a year, and many of them end up in a landfill. But one Illinois school has found an unusual way to use some of those tires. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman has more:


Great Lakes residents use more than two million tires a year, and many of them end up in a landfill. But one Illinois school has found an unusual way to use some of those tires. And they’re saving on hospital costs as well. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman has more.

(natural sound football practice, fade under quickly)

From beer cans to soda bottles, there are plenty of items that can be recycled at a typical football game. But at the 31-thousand seat Huskie Stadium at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, what is perhaps the largest recycling effort is in the field itself. More than 18-thousand ground-up tires are underneath the new surface of the playing field . . .mixed with sand; they provide a soft but durable base for all types of athletic events. The fake grass on top is similar to Astroturf, but project manager Norm Jenkins says this surface is better. He says the most important advantage is safety.

“It’s well documented over the last few years since these fields have been installed that the injury frequency goes way down in terms of ankle and knee injuries on this surface as opposed to the old Astroturf carpet. So it really simulates grass in that way. The other big advantage to this in our judgment is the appearance. Because really, as you sit in the stands at a Huskie football game–and even from the sidelines when you stand on that stuff–you’re convinced that the surface is grass. It looks, it appears just like a pristine grass playing surface”

The artificial turf at NIU is a brand called Field Turf. Jim Petrucelli is Vice-President of Turf USA, a Pittsburgh-based distributor of Field Turf. He says the scrap tires for the product are first washed with a high-pressure cleaning system similar to a car wash. But the tires aren’t run through grinder blades. That process is called ambient grinding because it takes place at room temperature. It tends to produce longer, rougher particles.

Instead, Petrucelli says the company cryogenically freezes the tires to temperatures below negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

“And then they drop them onto a hammer-mill. And the hammer-mill shatters them into pieces. And those pieces tend to have much flatter sides on them . . . that works much better in our system to prevent the rubber from migrating through the sand that it’s mixed with.”

Field Turf is used at several universities in the Great Lakes region, including the University of Cincinnati, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and at a University of Michigan field house. It’s also in use at dozens of high schools and public recreation facilities across the region, and has been installed in places as far away as Botswana and New Zealand.

Petrucelli says that at more than eight dollars a square foot, Field Turf is the Cadillac of artificial turf products. At Northern Illinois University, nearly one-third of the cost of installing the Field Turf was recovered through a variety of money-saving measures. The largest of these was a 200-thousand dollar grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. The money was awarded to the school for its use of the tires, which came from a salvage yard near Chicago. Robert Albanese is NIU’s Associate Vice President of Finance and Facilities.

“Every time you purchase a new tire there’s a fee that goes along with it. It goes to this fund for recycling the tires. And this process will only work, is if we use those recycled materials on the other end. And this is probably one of the bigger uses for recycled rubber that we’ve seen in the state of Illinois.”

NIU Director of Recycling Mary Crocker says the use of old tires in the Field Turf project wasn’t just about saving money.

“We’re interested in keeping the tires out the landfills. So this is probably the most comprehensive recycling program that you can find, where virtually everything has to do with recycling.”

(More football sound under)

The old Astroturf, which was removed to make way for the Field Turf, was also recycled. The university sold it for use as a soccer field overseas, earning an additional 29 thousand dollars for the school. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chris Lehman.