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Sports injuries in kids increase along with their dreams of scholarships or going pro

By Jan Dumay

Tatum veatch, 12, no. 37, suffered a twisted pelvis

They suffer twisted pelvises, fractured growth plates, knee and elbow injuries that can lead to extensive surgeries, hip misalignments, concussions, back and ankle injuries, you name it. Playing sports can definitely wreak havoc on the bodies of young athletes.

For many, the injuries are worth it.

“I’ve just always danced,” says Natalya Knoke, 14, of Liberty, who in May suffered a leg injury as she prepared to go to a national dance competition and varsity dance camp. “When other things come up, all I want to do is dance. I feel really happy when I’m doing it. I was really upset because I missed out on a few of my favorite things.”

Trey Ziegenbein, 18, of Blue Springs, who has played baseball since he was a 5-year-old T-ball player, has undergone two Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgeries in his pitching arm. Despite this, he’s never burned out on the sport he loves.

“Even with all this physical therapy over the past couple of years, it still hasn’t grown old,” he says, adding that after he takes a year off to recuperate, he plans to be back on the mound.

Tatum Veatch, 12, of Leawood, who suffered a twisted pelvis in May while playing competitive volleyball, even played while she was undergoing physical therapy.

“I think it’s something really fun and would be really cool to do when I’m older, too,” she says.

The Growing Number

Tatum veatch, no. 37, attempts to dodge a block.

Experts say the number of sports-related injuries in kids is rising. While it’s true that playing sports can be extremely good for kids, leading to less obesity, greater self-confidence, and teamwork and leadership skills, statistics show that as many as 4 in 10 emergency room visits for children between 5 and 14 years old are for sports-related injuries. Research also shows that girls who play basketball and soccer suffer more concussions than boys do.

It didn’t use to be this way. Youth sports in America has changed in the last 40 years, when young children played a friendly “pick-up” game of baseball or basketball at the neighborhood park. Now the term “sports specialization” is a common term, referring to young athletes often beginning their competitive sports careers as early as age 7, if not sooner. They play primarily one sport and stick to it, heightening the chance of injury because of repetitive motions the sport requires.

Jason Yoder, physical therapy manager at Children’s Mercy Hospital’s Center for Sports Medicine, says kids who play baseball are getting fractures earlier and earlier, noting that what he used to see in a 16- and 17-year-old, he’s now seeing in a 10- and 11-year-old. Knee injuries are huge in soccer, particularly for females because of their bodies’ mechanical makeup. Gymnastics and cheerleading injuries include those to the back, ankles and hips.

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S u b s c r i b e

April 2018

Programs such as Creativity and Innovation for Effectiveness (CAIFE) at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State), are an impactful mechanism to engage a campus in culture change for the benefit of the institution. Historically, the business or administrative side of the house identifies a concern about resource allocation, reducing expense, or finding alternative revenue sources. However, instead of engaging the higher education community in a positive process, the announcement of such an initiative often taps into a deep anxiety. This opens up the opportunity to create a bottom-up approach to culture change.

The CAIFE project at Fresno State and other projects led by Teibel Education at institutions such as the University of San Francisco, Loyola University Maryland, and Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pa., focus on understanding the broader needs of the community, as defined by the stakeholders. These initiatives are about unleashing the community to drive the change they can imagine, and, in turn, encouraging leadership to give up some control. A core principle is that people doing the work understand what needs to change better than those who are two to three levels up in the organization. (Read also “ Bold Takes Hold .” Visit https://teibelinc.com/culture to watch a video on ways to implement change on your campus.)

The organizational structure of higher education often binds us to ways that we can reinvent to meet our customers’ needs. Individuals leading functional areas (such as vice presidents that make up the cabinet) are not in the best position to define how the work can change. It’s necessary to move two or three layers down into the enterprise to see how the work is actually being performed.

Even organizing a team from a division invariably creates a limited view of what’s possible (such as a team solely made up of facilities staff). To encourage divergent thinking, bringing faculty, IT, and HR staff together in one team broadens the perspective of how to solve problems on campus and, more importantly, engages people at all levels of the organization in “who we want to be.”

For example, a team looking at facilities utilization or student success need not be led by the facilities director or head of student affairs or academic affairs. Functional knowledge is beneficial, but even more useful is the knowledge of the benefactors of the work performed by these groups. Students, faculty, administrators, and staff outside of facilities can speak to the effectiveness of how classrooms are being used or ways that office space can be organized more effectively across campus.

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