LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In this School Smarts report, WDRB's Sterling Riggs met with Dr. David White to learn about the three most common injuries to student athletes.
Dr. David White specializes in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. He's also a longtime lacrosse coach and an accomplished marathon runner. He knows all too well about the physical risks taken by athletes to compete.
1. Ankle Sprain and Ankle Fracture
White says the most common question he gets is, "Can I just stay home, or do I need an x-ray?" He says it's important to know the difference. A sprain is when an athlete tears the ligaments holding the ankle bones to the foot bones. A fracture is a bone break. Athletes can have both. White says some sprain symptoms can mask a fracture.
After an ankle injury, White says there are several obvious things to look for to determine whether it's a broken bone. It's typically a break when there's a deformity of the bone and the athlete can't walk for more than a few steps. If this is the case, go to the doctor to get an x-ray. If it's only a sprain, he recommends rest, ice, compression and elevation. White says repeat those steps for several days before starting general range of motion.
2. Cuts or Lacerations
So when does a student athlete need to get stitches for a cut? White says athletes need stitches if a cut is long or deep. It's also good to get stitches if the wound is still bleeding for more than a couple minutes after pressure is applied to the cut. White says athletes need stitches for cuts on joints or on the face. He recommends seeing a plastic surgeon for most facial cuts because the wound will heal better cosmetically.
White says concussions are a hot topic because many people don't agree on the definition of a concussion. He says a lot of people think an athlete must experience loss of consciousness to suffer a concussion. White says only 10% of people who suffer a concussion, experience loss of consciousness. The most common symptoms of a concussion include a subtle head ache, loss of concentration and dizziness. White says after an athlete suffers a hard hit, he looks at the athletes' eyes to see if he/she has a faraway look and asks the athlete a series of questions. In the event the athlete has glassy eyes and does not answer the questions correctly, the athlete must sit out for several weeks. White says the most common question people ask him is this, "When is the athlete cleared to play." He says first, the athlete must be diagnosed by a trained medical professional and that professional will determine when the student can return to action. It's very important to know that athletes shouldn't run for at least a week after being diagnosed with concussion symptoms. White believes athletes should sit out for at least three weeks before going back to full contact.
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