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Parents Concerned Over High School Sports Injuries

By Phyllis K. Smith, 1080 KRLD | CBSDFW.COM

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With high school football about to get underway in Texas many parents are once again growing concerned about injuries to their kids.

Jill’s son plays center on J.J Pearce High School’s varsity football team in Richardson. He got hurt during Spring practice when his shoulders were hit in opposite directions. The trainers treated her son with ice and physical therapy and allowed him to play until two weeks later when he was in the school musical. Jill saw him wince when he lifted one of the actresses in the air and almost dropped her. It was then she said “no more” and took him to two different Doctors. An MRI showed his shoulder and bicep was torn and that he needed immediate surgery. Now he won’t be able to play for the entire fall season.

Jill is angry because she says the pressure for the kids to play trumps their injuries.

PLAY: KRLD’s Phyllis Smith reports

“They just kind of make fun of the kids that they’re babies and they need mental toughness and that the parents coddle them.” she said. But Pearce’s Head Coach, Randy Robertson, says in his program mental toughness does not mean playing hurt.

“I will never put somebody else out there unless they’re cleared with their trainers.” said the coach. That’s not to say position coaches won’t override the trainers advice. Coach Robertson says he can’t keep an eye on each of his 11 coaches at all times to oversee they’re behavior.

Kevin Pitts is one of the trainers at Pearce High School. He says he feels a certain amount of pressure, because he knows the kids want to be out there. But Pitts says he’s not going to risk their long term or short term health and put them back on the field if they’re not ready. Pitts says sometimes an injury can get worse off the field, because the muscle is weak. That could be what happened with Jill’s son. His injury could have been exacerbated when he was in the school musical.

Pitts says if an injury doesn’t improve after a couple of weeks they will recommend the player sees a doctor. Jill’s Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Don Buford, says trainers are educated to look for the warning signs of a serious illness. Dr. Buford says the student athlete needs to have close to normal range of motion, and that will depend on the position they’re playing. The other important test is for the athlete to have protective strength as well. But Dr. Buford also says evaluations could differ from trainer to trainer and even doctor to doctor. That means it’s up to the athlete to speak up when they are hurt.

But Jill says you can’t rely on the kids to be completely honest about their injuries, because of the pressure they feel to get back on the field. She says “because they’re children they still haven’t processed to stand up for themselves. So they’re trying to follow the rules even it’s not a written rule but it’s kind of an understood rule.” Jill says it’s not just the kids who put pressure on themselves, but the parents as well. She says “the parents want them out there, because of popularity, because of a scholarship, financial reasons.”

Trainer Kevin Pitts says they encourage kids to talk to their parents when they get hurt. But Jill wants more than that. She wants an accident report immediately, so the parents will no right away. Coach Robertson says their trainers write up reports when an athlete gets hurt, but they are for the Coaches not the parents.

After spending several thousands of dollars on medical bills, and helping her son work through the emotional impact of sitting out for an entire season Jill wishes that someone on the football staff would have told her sooner, so she would have had a choice about what treatment her son should get.

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