Dr. Shannon M. Wolfe, Tuckahoe Orthopaedics, Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine TeamBy Shannon M. Wolfe, MD

With Fall on the way comes a return to football season, and Tuckahoe Orthopaedics is glad to be heavily involved with local football programs. Many of our patients happen to be football players at various levels within the sport.

Let’s take a look at how we got involved in local football teams and what our roles as doctors are. Then I’ll share some of my experiences and tips for players and their parents.

High School & College Football and Tuckahoe Physicians

Football has always been a passion of mine. I was fortunate enough to be able to play college football during my time at University of Akron. After finishing up my own athletic career and personally experiencing many of the injuries I now treat, it was a natural progression to provide services to other football student-athletes.

Tuckahoe Orthopaedics sponsors a sports medicine Fellowship program through Orthopaedic Research of Virginia.  As part of this program, the practice provides one-year fellowships for those who have completed training at an accredited medical school and wish to experience one more year of in-the-field involvement to hone their skills. A key piece of this fellowship involves working with local football programs, whose season coincides with the start of our fellowship year in July.

The group covers several local high schools and colleges, with physicians and fellows always available to provide service. Our service includes watching games and attending to an athlete who requires assistance before, during, and after the game, which even includes non-game days. Care is coordinated with the school’s athletic trainers, based on the severity of any particular injury. After a player recovers, we are also the ones to clear him to return to practice.

Common Football Injuries

Although those requiring surgery receive the most attention, many football injuries at the high school level are minor ones. Injuries such as ankle sprains are commonplace, and physical therapy can often be used to alleviate symptoms. As physicians, we help monitor a player’s progress and provide guidance as to when the athlete can return to play.

Shoulder dislocations and ACL tears are additional common injuries (the former are often reduced on the sideline while the latter do often require surgical repair). Even though they are not “orthopedic” injuries, per se, concussion symptoms are a common part of the game. Thus, an orthopedic physician or fellow may also be part of the team that helps observe and diagnose those issues for a player.

Injury Prevention Tips for Football Players

One of the best pieces of advice for football players of all ages is to simply listen to your trainer. It’s important to maintain healthy eating, especially on game days. Keep properly hydrated and stay flexible by stretching before taking the field.

The risk of many non-traumatic injuries, such as cramps, is easily reduced with proper care (i.e. hydration).  However, non-traumatic issues can easily lead to more debilitating injuries if not properly addressed. No matter what pains or problems you are experiencing, make sure to immediately report any and all injuries to your trainer.

Tips for Parents

It’s important for parents to know that the physicians and fellows are always available to assist.  If you see your child acting differently and believe the behavior (or injury) hasn’t been reported to a trainer, make sure to let an athletic trainer or medical personnel know of the situation – even if the student-athlete is typically seen by another orthopaedic specialist.

If your child is experiencing pain due to a football injury, we encourage you to schedule an appointment today.