Absolutely! Q & A Fall Sports Kick-Off

Texas Children’s West Campus Experts Answering Common Fall Sports Questions

The Sports Medicine Team includes Brian Scully, physical therapist; Dr. Jorge Gomez, primary care physician; Dr. Megan May, sports medicine and pediatric orthopedic surgery; Dr. J. Herman Kan, pediatric musculoskeletal imaging; Dr. Scott McKay, pediatric orthopedic surgery and sports medicine; and Lisa Hughes, clinical coordinator for the Sports Medicine Program.

Yearly checkups are critical, especially for growing, school-aged kids. This is even more important for those young athletes preparing for a year of sports. As summer is coming to a close, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus recommends that all parents ensure their children book early with their pediatricians for sports physicals to help reduce the risk of delay in their child’s athletic adventures. It’s also important to ensure that parents and athletes know who their community medical partners are to turn to if their child faces an injury and needs advanced specialized care this season.

Now open at I-10 and Barker Cypress, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus houses 19 subspecialty outpatient clinics, inpatient hospital services and the only 24/7 dedicated pediatric emergency center in the West Houston area. www.westcampus.texaschildrens.org.

Experts: Dr. Jorge Gomez, primary care sports medicine; and Drs. Megan May and Scott McKay, sports medicine and orthopedic surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.


Q: Why is a sports physical necessary?

Yearly sports physicals are a vital part of your child’s preparation for the sports season. These visits, which can be paired with yearly checkups in the summer for convenience, allow for the identification of silent problems and help patients with chronic issues – such as asthma – create a plan of action with their pediatrician. In order to provide continuity of care, your pediatrician or medical home is the best place to go for your yearly sports physical as they will already have a history of your child’s previous sports injuries, your vaccine record and a history of your child’s growth/development.

If your pediatrician notices a potential problem, they will refer your child to a specialist before they are cleared for participation in sports. These silent problems can include a variety of issues, such as heart murmurs, which should be evaluated by a pediatric subspecialist prior to any athletic activity.

Q: What should my child expect during this exam?

You and your child should be prepared to discuss the questions addressed on their sports physical form given by the school, especially any questions that were answered “yes.” For the most part, the exam will be similar to a normal exam with the addition of a more thorough musculoskeletal exam. It’s important that your pediatrician is sure that your child is in proper health for the sport they are interested in pursuing. There will also be additional emphasis on your family medical history, especially with the cardiovascular history of the immediate family. Be prepared to tell the pediatrician about family health issues (i.e. heart conditions, asthma, etc.) as these may be important to monitor and/or follow up on with a subspecialist.

Q: What are the most common injuries for fall sports?

During the fall sports season, we see a number of injuries from a variety of sports including the usual suspects – football, volleyball, basketball and track– but we also see a lot of injuries from ballet dancers, gymnasts and cheerleaders as well which comes as a surprise to many families. Some of the most common injuries we see in the Sports Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus include concussions, pulled muscles, shoulder injuries, sprains, Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears and exercise-induced asthma. For any questions you may have, or to make an appointment with our Sports Medicine team, call 832-22-SPORT (77678) or visit www.westcampus.texaschildrens.org.

Q: What do I do if I fear my child has a concussion?

Unfortunately, this is a very common injury we see, especially among student athletes and is the most common head injury. Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect any type of head injury has occurred. Our emergency center at West Campus is open 24/7 with board certified pediatric medicine physicians trained to evaluate these injuries. Symptoms to watch for include pain, nausea, dizziness, a change of consciousness and slurred speech. If you suspect a concussion try and keep the athlete very still and ask simple questions – such as “What is today’s date?” or “What’s your name?” – to help determine the severity of the head injury and keep them awake. Be sure to follow up with a medical specialist. Here at the Sports Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, we have experts in sports-related concussions and injuries that can help assess the injury and work with your family on a treatment plan. It’s imperative that all athletes wear the recommended protective head gear for their sport to help prevent concussions, especially when participating in full-contact sports.

Q: How are ACL injuries treated?

It varies depending on the severity of the tear. For incomplete tears, the injury can be treated conservatively while watched closely by our medical team. It’s important to be sure to take action as soon as an injury occurs. If there is a possibility that the ACL has been impacted, the athlete should immediately rest, use ice, compression and elevate the leg. Get medical attention as soon as possible to evaluate the extent of the damage. Anti-inflammatory medications such as Motrin, ibuprofen or Aspirin will help with the pain and swelling.

If it’s determined that the ACL is torn, the medical team will determine if reconstructive surgery is the best option for your child. Taking into account a number of factors, such as age and skeletal maturity, a surgery may be considered. Our multidisciplinary Sports Medicine Program team includes pediatric physicians, orthopedic surgeons, radiologists – including Dr. J. Herman Kan a pediatric musculoskeletal imaging specialist – and physical therapists who not only have extensive experience in identifying and treating sports injuries, but even more specialized experience in working with young athletes whose growth and development need to be taken into account when determining the best course of action. These experts can help you and your family make that determination and work through everything, including the rehabilitation follow up needed for your child.

Q: What can be done about shoulder pain?

An athlete’s shoulder pain can be caused by any number of injuries, and it’s something we see often here at our program. Shoulder dislocations are very common among athletes and these injuries occur when too much pressure is applied to the ligaments that connect the arm to the shoulder. Regardless of whether or not you think your child’s shoulder has “popped” back into place, it’s important to seek medical attention to ensure everything is set and will heal correctly. For those athletes with more extensive shoulder damage, for instance a torn rotator cuff, our sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons can help you evaluate the best course of action to help ensure your child is healed completely for their optimal performance when getting back into action after an injury.

Q:  How can I protect my child from the heat?

Living in Texas, this is one of the most important aspects of fall sports safety. Our children begin training for their sports in the hot summer months and participate in organized practices and games through some of the hottest, and most humid, times of the year. For those participating in outdoor sports, try to limit the amount of time you are outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Since it’s not always possible to avoid the outdoors during practices and training, be sure to dress appropriately. Everyone should wear a T-shirt to prevent sunburn, and sun screen should be worn and reapplied every two to three hours.

All athletes need to stay hydrated. Your child should always be drinking more when they are, or are planning to be, active. Make sure fluids are consumed often, and don’t let your child get thirsty because by that time it’s too late. Drinks containing carbohydrates, such as sports drinks, can be given to those children and young adults who may be involved in strenuous sports or activities; however, water is the preferred drink of choice for all.