College Basketball Injuries: What’s At Risk?
Athletes are conditioned to push themselves to their limits every practice and every game. Unfortunately, this leads to high risk for injuries, some of which can end a player’s career if left untreated. Plus, the worst feeling for fans is when a team’s star player is out for the season due to an injury.
Dr. Evan Goldstein, managing partner of the ER at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, explains, “The most common injuries for college basketball players occur in the ankle, then the knee, then the foot. They experience many sprains and fractures, as well as injuries in cartilage, like the knee meniscus.”
College basketball players are at high risk for injuries such as:
● Ankle sprains: when the foot rolls inward or outward by force, and ankle ligaments tear or overstretch
● Muscle pulls: when muscle is stretched beyond its normal limit, resulting in strains or rips in the muscle fiber
● Torn meniscus: when the tissue that acts as a cushion between the leg bones and the knee tears
● Tendonitis: overuse of tendons, often the Achilles or patellar tendon, that results from traumatic force from jumping and landing or lateral movement
● Stress fractures: small cracks in the bone that occur from repetitive application of force from movements similar to those that cause tendonitis
- College basketball athletes can suffer from two different types of injury: acute or chronic. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine explains, “Two distinct types of injury to the lower extremity can occur in basketball: acute injury from a sudden and forceful blow, or chronic injury, which develops slowly and becomes aggravated over an extended period of time.” The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center notes that common causes of basketball injuries include short, intermittent bursts of activity; quick starts and stops; and physical contact.Dr. Goldstein suggests that athletes should begin with a strategy of prevention, “Start by stretching, performing sufficient warmup, and using proper footwear.” The Journal of Athletic
Training reports that ankle flexibility can be used to predict probability of injury. So, athletes can reduce the risk of certain injuries by ensuring sufficient preperformance work.
Once a college basketball player has suffered an injury, appropriate treatment is essential. Athletes can accurately identify injuries by visiting an orthopedist so that they do not exacerbate the injury by playing on it further. The orthopedist will follow up for physical therapy, ultrasound treatment, and possible surgical interventions to repair ligaments and cartilage if an injury is severe or not responsive to corrective therapy.
However, immediate attention to an injury can help a player mitigate the effects. The acronym RICE is popular for athletic injury treatment: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Manhattan Orthopedic Care explains, “Ice should be used in the acute stage of an injury (within the first 2448 hours), or whenever there is swelling. Ice helps to reduce inflammation by decreasing blood flow to the area in which cold is applied.” The University of Wisconsin’s Health Services adds that compression and elevation help reduce swelling, an effective early treatment for common basketball injuries.
Most importantly, college athletes must make sure that they see the appropriate specialists that can help them with their injuries. Unfortunately, as Boca Regional Urgent Care reports, injuries can worsen if they’re treated incorrectly. Luckily, college basketball teams employ trainers and medics who focus specifically on their athletes’ most pressing medical needs.
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