Dr. Anthony Romeo appeared on WGN on July 1st, 2016 to talk about the steps coaches, parents, and sports institutions can take to prevent injuries in young athletes. As the co-team physician for Chicago sports teams like the White Sox and Bulls, Dr. Anthony Romeo has garnered respect as an authority on sports injury prevention and surgery.
Helping young athletes from harm as a result of poor practices — and holding their supervisors accountable — has become a specialized interest of Dr. Anthony Romeo’s as well. During his consultation on WGN, Dr. Anthony Romeo furthers this conversation. Read on to see Dr. Anthony Romeo’s thoughts, and visit Dr. Anthony Romeo, MD to learn more.
Too Much for Young Baseball Players
Over the last 10 years, more than 50 percent of incidences of Tommy John Surgery — an elbow surgery to reconstruct injured elbow ligaments — have been on 15- to 19-year-old baseball players. That figure grows by nine percent every year.
In Dr. Anthony Romeo’s words, “we have an epidemic now in our younger kids having elbow surgery as baseball pitchers or playing pitchers, and it’s very similar in the shoulder too. We recognized it in Major League Baseball first, but now it’s been moved into our younger athletes.”
According to Dr. Anthony Romeo, there’s no doubt that the increase in injuries correlates to how frequently young athletes play, practice, and throw the ball. This is partly evidenced by the fact that young athletes in colder climates where it’s difficult to practice year-round experience less instances of surgery requiring serious injury.
How We Can Protect Our Young Athletes
Dr. Anthony Romeo favors limiting pitch counts to protect young players. The empirical data, says Dr. Anthony Romeo, supports a pitch count of 70-80 pitches to help the epidemic of high school elbow injuries. Parents, players, and coaches can learn more about this data at m.MLB.com/pitchsmart and Shoulders For Life at RushOrtho.com.
In August, the Illinois High School Association will consider limiting the number of pitches and the number of games per week to keep players from injury. Until then, coaches and parents must take action to ensure their children and players are not overworked so as to minimize the risk of injury in young athletes.