Coaches, trainers, doctors meet to discuss sports injuries in kids

Dr. Jennifer King
Dr. Jennifer King
Dr. Heather Hopkins
Dr. Heather Hopkins
Physical Therapist Kip Ouchi
Physical Therapist Kip Ouchi

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's been more attention being paid to sports injuries among kids in Hawaii. And for the first time, trainers, coaches and doctors gathered to discuss those injuries Saturday at the Hawaii Pacific Health's Sports Medicine Symposium.

The conference objectives included identifying common injuries and recognizing emergency situations in sports that involve young athletes and how to respond to them. One major topic was concussions.

"I think because the word is getting out, we've been very good about trying to educate parents and coaches about things to look for in head injuries. And I think because of that, the numbers are rising," said Dr. Jennifer King, who practices pediatric sports medicine for Kapiolani Orthopedic Associates.

Last August, a Damien Memorial School football quarterback suffered a concussion after taking a hit while completing a pass. Earlier this month, a Nanakuli High School softball catcher was injured after she ran into a wall while chasing a pop foul ball.

"It's much more important to get these under control when the brain is immature, because the long term effects can be a lot worse," said King.

Doctors are also concerned about many of the sports and energy drinks that are being consumed by young athletes. They say some energy drinks can have eight times the amount of caffeine that's found in a regular cup of coffee. "And so that's high caffeine levels, combined with other stimulants, equals a racing heart and not necessarily good sports performance," said Dr. Heather Hopkins, a specialist in sports medicine at the Kauai Medical Clinic.

What's best for a young athlete? "I say water. Water and a good diet," Hopkins said.

"There's a difference between fuel for the body, which are things like glucose and maybe some vitamins and water -- you need water. And there's a difference between all of that and a stimulant," said Hopkins. "Some of the drinks there are stimulants -- what we can stimulant drinks. And those have high levels of caffeine, and there's even been some deaths in children from overdosing."

There's also the old saying, "No pain, no gain." The experts don't agree.

"If there's muscle soreness from working out, that sort of thing, yes, 'no pain, no gain' might come into play a little bit. But by and large, it really is sort of a myth, 'no pain, no gain,'" said physical therapist Kip Ouchi. "You want to be listening to your body."

Doctors said ultimately, parents and coaches should listen to kids when it comes to injuries.

"If you let a kid play, and they stopped when it hurt and you didn't make them play, they wouldn't get injured because they know when to stop," King said.

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