By: Sarah Kirkup and Jesse Borek
Stepping onto the turf for a playoff game during her senior season, Stephanie Surrusco, was only thinking of only one thing. Win! All of that came to a halting end when two bodies crashed together in the first twenty minutes of the game.
The crowd fell silent. Surrusco, a member of the Longwood High School soccer team, slipped on the turf in August and tore her anterior cruciate ligament, which left her out of the game and unable to play for the rest of the season.
“I stepped on my foot wrong and it was a complete freak accident,” Surrusco said. “It took me nine months to recover and I was a little nervous to go back but once I stepped on the field I was good.”
Over the past two decades the number of reported ACL injuries have increased by 2.3 percent annually in patients 6 to 18 years old, according to a new study published in October by the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference.
ACL tears are one of the most common sports injuries in football, soccer and field hockey, according to Dr. William Levine, orthopedic surgeon and team doctor at Columbia University. Last month alone, Levine said that he has performed two separate ACL repair surgeries for members of Columbia’s football team.
“The first time I tore my ACL, my foot got stuck in the mud during a game,” Adam Parr, a former collegiate soccer player who was forced to retire from the game after a second ACL tear, said. “I feel it a bit when I’m kneeling, but running for long periods of time definitely is painful,” Parr said.
Hamstring pulls and rotator cuff injuries are other common sports injuries, Levine said.
Those who play a sport year round, particularly children, should think about adding more variety to their training and playing routines, in order to prevent injuries caused by wear and tear of specific muscles, David Geier, Chairman of the Public Relations Committee for the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine said.
“Overuse injuries can almost always be prevented,” Geier said. “Taking a few months off from the main sport each year, playing a variety of sports, not playing through pain and many similar ideas can keep kids from developing overuse injuries.”
More than half of the seven million related sports injuries reported annually, occur in the age range from five years old to 24 years old, according to the U.S Center for Disease Control.
“These kids are playing year round, and much harder than in the past, in very competitive games,” Dr. Gary Olsen, chiropractor and owner of Long Island Spine and Sports Injury said.
Even though there are risks to playing any sport there are health benefits to being active Geier says that children should try to get involved in sports.
“The benefits of sports are enormous,” Geier said. “In addition to the physical health benefits–decreased risk of childhood obesity and much more–sports are thought to improve academic success, teamwork, emotional and mental health and even later career success.”