Cheney Free Press -

By SHANNEN TALBOT
Staff Reporter 

Sports injuries don't damage long-term quality of life

Crunch Time

 

January 17, 2019



Over the weekend, scientists in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics released a study examining the “health-related quality of life” of teens who had suffered concussions or bone fractures while participating in sports.

The results indicated that while adolescents regularly reported lower quality of life during their initial recovery period, the deficits did not persist past their clinical recovery. Essentially, though their healing process sucked, once their injury healed they were fine.

I could have told you that.

While getting hurt isn’t ideal, I’d be willing to bet that high school athletes are far less concerned about their injuries than scientists, pundits and parents.

I should know — I was one.

I was a dancer for 15 years, starting at age 7 and “retiring” at 18, often dancing more than 25 hours a week and later teaching younger students. Eventually, an old ankle fracture and ligament tear caught up with me, coupling with a deterioration of cartilage in both knees and bringing my semi-professional dance career to a screeching halt.

And that’s OK.

I would rather have gone through the pain of multiple injuries and the disappointment of altered plans in order to have what sports gave me. The years and years of positive relationships, of new experiences, of social and emotional learning — that can’t be erased by a mere physical malady.

I don’t think injuries are ever convenient, but neither are they an immediate life sentence to misery, pain and woe the way they’re often depicted. If anything, a career-ending injury gave me the opportunity to discover other dreams, goals and talents that I would not have explored otherwise.

Besides, the threat of injury in the dance world wasn’t constant, but every person I knew understood it was a possibility.

That’s why preventative medicine is such a booming industry. We used natural creams for sore muscles, took ice baths to soothe inflammation and refrained from doing anything “dangerous” in the weeks leading up to big competitions. Just in case.

But sometimes accidents happen, and it’s important to remember that just because a teen is injured — even if that injury persists into adulthood — it doesn’t necessarily damage their overall quality of life. When my injuries started to bother me, I could have kept dancing. Maybe not at the level or frequency I had been, but I didn’t have to step away from the thing I enjoyed doing.

I did, but for unrelated reasons like the timing lining up with my plans to move across the state for college. Injuries don’t have to haunt you; if anything, they can teach you invaluable lessons about the fragility of the human body, the resiliency of the human spirit and empathy for others in similar situations.

Kids should play sports, whether that’s football, softball, dance, cheer, or any other physical activity they enjoy. Keeping them from participating out of fear they might get hurt does them a disservice — so let them play.

Shannen Talbot can be reached at shannen@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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