Published 7/1/2010

Young athletes, charity cases need attention

I read with interest, but no surprise, Lisa Weisenberger’s article on “Putting a STOP to sports injuries.” This article decries the increasing incidence of sports-related injuries in “young athletes” and proposes a campaign of vigorous education of multiple involved adults to “slow, and eventually halt, the rising rate of injuries….”

Leaving aside the unlikely possibility that those who profit from the injuries might be less than ideally positioned to eliminate them, I would suggest that this trend is not so much from inadequate training of the adults involved as it is to the utter loss of childhood play and its replacement by adult striving grafted onto impressionable youngsters.

The phrase “the young athlete” sums up the warped slant of our current culture. Already dressed in uniforms fit to shame all but the major leagues, partaking in concentrated training sessions, expected to focus on one or two sports, these are no longer children at play, but children who have been converted into miniprofessionals, working for the oxymoronic “athletic scholarship” or the even more elusive, brief, but glorious life of an Olympic contender or highly paid major leaguer.

Would there not be far less injury if we adults withdrew from the field, let children play what they wanted when they wanted, let them quit when they felt like it, and let them change sports daily or however often their rapidly developing and changing perspectives guided them?

In short, if we really wanted to stop overuse and other injuries in the young—not to mention provide them with a more wholesome and varied exposure to life, say up to high-school age—would we not allow children to once again engage in child’s play and leave the adult regimentation, regulation, and ambition to a later stage of development? Should we as physicians not begin to vigorously advocate this change?

John DeWeese, MD
Longmeadow, Mass.

I am a retired orthopaedist who donates care to the Old Irving Park Community Clinic in Chicago. The Clinic renders free care to those patients who are out of work or have no insurance and/or money for medical care. Several of them are undocumented immigrants. I receive no payments or salary from the clinic.

Over the past few months, I have referred 59 patients to full-time orthopaedic surgeons in the area. I have received no response from any of them. According to the patients, they must pay money to be seen, even at the major medical centers. There is the public county hospital, but it is rather far away and the wait is rather long.

Is there a way I can get help from actively practicing AAOS members in the Chicago area who are willing to donate care—perhaps for just one patient a month—for surgery and/or fracture care?

Charles D. “Chuck” Magill, MD

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