I’m looking forward to our 9th annual Sports Medicine Update: Building Young Athletes – Safe and Healthy conference this Friday, March 6. We’re bringing in local and national speakers to talk about today’s hot issues in adolescent sports medicine.
We’ll be discussing everything from sports nutrition and supplementation, to the latest hip surgery, hip arthroscopy for labral tears, to the 2 newest approaches to ACL surgery. My talk will focus on the elbow’s UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) and a common myth associated with it.
Today, I had the chance to speak with WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about the conference and some of these hot issues. Though I’m thrilled to announce every seat is full, we do have overflow rooms available. I hope to see you there.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.
HORNER: Let’s bring my good friend, Dr. Joe Congeni, onto the show this morning. Joe, good morning. What do you have on your mind this morning in sports medicine?
DR. CONGENI: Hey, Ray. Can I just give you an update about our annual CME conference that is this weekend?
HORNER: Of course. Of course.
DR. CONGENI: We talk about it. This is the 9th annual Building Young Athletes – Safe and Healthy, and we bring in national speakers and great local speakers and we’re talking about a lot of the hot issues that you and I talk about every Wednesday morning.
One of my good friends from the University of Maine is coming in. She’s talking about sports nutrition and supplementation. She gives a great talk on that. People are always happy to hear that.
We have some of the surgeons in the area talking about, you know, you and I have been talking about the, uh, newer surgery, the hip arthroscopy for labral tears that’s become all the rage. We’re gonna have an update on that.
We’re gonna have an update on … the 2 newer approaches to the ACL, particularly in young athletes, ACL surgery, and that’s gonna be a great talk.
And, I’m gonna be giving a talk on throwing injuries as we move into the spring here, particularly focus a little bit on the UCL, not the ACL, but of the elbow, the ulnar collateral ligament.
You know, this pesky ligament that bothers throwers quite a bit, Ray, is a problem, but in the last few weeks you and I have been talking about it in the traumatic version of it. As you know, Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks) struggled in the Super Bowl and now Jimmy Butler for the Chicago Bulls. Did you see him try to get over a screen …
HORNER: I did.
DR. CONGENI: and injure that elbow? They said he stretched — great 2 to 3 partial tear — the ulnar collateral ligament.
Remember, we’ve talked about that in throwers, in pitchers. If they don’t have that ligament reconstructed surgically … it just doesn’t heal tight enough. It heals with looseness and they cannot generate enough force to throw the baseball with the strength they need to be a pitcher again.
But if you play other sports, they try to get by and you saw that I think both in Richard Sherman and now again in Jimmy Butler, both cases, they’re not gonna do surgery. They’re gonna let it heal and rehabilitate it, and [Butler’s] expected to be back to the Bulls I think they said in 3 to 6 weeks.
Now, on the other hand, one myth I did want to mention that I’ll be talking about a lot at the conference [is] among young pitchers, and even I think pitching coaches, that fixing the ulnar collateral ligament — every athlete and baseball player seems to know it’s called Tommy John surgery — actually makes pitchers better after they have that surgery done. And, that’s a myth.
Now there’s some good research to show that the year after, 2 years after and for the remainder of the career after an athlete has Tommy John surgery the numbers bear out, they don’t do as well. … There was this talk out there, oh my gosh, you almost wanna have this surgery done because you’ll be a better pitcher afterwards.
And so, we’re gonna talk about the fact that tearing that ligament is a big deal and getting it fixed is an even bigger deal.
HORNER: When is the conference then, Joe?
DR. CONGENI: So the conference, we do it every year and we do it at Children’s and we invite people from the outside. I was told yesterday that every seat is full, but we at Children’s have some overflow rooms. A lot of people like to spread out in the overflow rooms.
It’s for athletic trainers, physical therapists and doctors in the community. We have a really, really good turnout this year. We have people from around the country.
We have a speaker coming in from Ohio State this year, and one from the University of Maine that’s a friend of mine. We bring up the hot topics of sports medicine, like the hot topics you and I talk about on Wednesday mornings.
HORNER: Joe, it’s amazing how your business is just exploding, sports medicine, trainers and such. I go to a lot of the schools as you know with our student athlete programs and [I’ve] talked to so many students over the last 3 to 5 years and I gotta tell you probably 70 percent of these kids want to get into sports medicine. They really want to learn about it.
DR. CONGENI: Yeah, it is, and there’s a lot of different ways to get into it. So people, you know, come in my office frequently [and say], “I wanna take your job some day.”
I say, “Man, I’m almost ready for that today.”
DR. CONGENI: Uh, the, uh, but sometimes it’s on the physician side of what we do, or if you really like working with the athletes on the field, that’s the trainer side at the school that you see.
Or, if you really like rehabilitating people, that’s the physical therapy side. Or, you know, there are other areas, the sports nutritionists, sports psychologists. And so, it really has exploded and there are a lot of people, you know, interested in getting into it.
But one area that I’ve seen with the athletic trainers that I just wanna tell you about that’s exciting to me is we see the trainers in the high-school setting all over the place. And, they’re so good at teaching and treating and evaluating and educating and all that, but we don’t see any in the junior-high level. The junior high kids get hurt at just the same rate, if not more.
And finally, in our community and other communities around the country, we’re starting to see it. Schools are starting to come and say, hey, could we look at getting a trainer for the junior high?
Two or 3 schools approached us for the first time this year and very groundbreaking, they’re actually putting athletic trainers into the junior high schools now, as well as all the athletic trainers that we see out in the high schools.
HORNER: Alright, great education as always with you, Joe. Thanks for taking time, always appreciate it. We’ll catch up with you next week.
DR. CONGENI: Okay, Ray. Have a great week.
HORNER: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center, Akron Children’s Hospital, on board with us.