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Let’s Move Quad Cities: Fall Sports That Hurt Student Athletes The Most

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Football. Soccer. Volleyball. Those three sports are very different from one another, but they have one similarity - they're the top fall activities for injuries.

"I see a lot more ankle injuries, a lot more knee injuries, and a lot more shoulder injuries this time of year," said Dr. Ryan Dunlay, a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon at ORA Orthopedics.

Dr. Dunlay is also the Head Team Physician for Davenport North High School. In fact, ORA Physicians serve as Team Physicians for 11 high schools in the QCA.

"My goal for the athlete is to get them back as quickly and safely as possible and performing at as high a level as they were prior to the injury and sometimes at a higher level," said Dr. Dunlay.

However, that goal has some obstacles. More and more high school athletes are getting hurt. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they alone account for an estimated 2 million injuries every year.

Most are overuse injuries.

"As opposed to 20 years ago where kids tend to focus on more than one sport, now kids seem to be focusing on one sport and honing in on that sport and that lends itself to a lot more injuries," explained Dr. Dunlay.

Let's Move QC featured two of those types of athletes in the past year. Travis Krayenhagen was a kicker at Assumption High School who tore the cartilage in his right hip and Gabby Pauwels is a soccer player at United Township High SChool who tore her ACL.

Dr. Dunlay says those one-sport students need rest and rehab.

"I think cross training is beneficial, because it trains the muscles in different ways and it doesn't allow them to become as fatigued," he explained. "Discomfort is a normal part of the process of getting stronger, but if there's pain - that's something that should signal a red flag for them."

ORA treated 1,700 high school students (ages 13-18) within the last year. It's good for business, but Dr. Dunlay says the real win is keeping everyone moving forward and moving better.

"A victory for me is making it through the game without an injury as opposed to a victory on the scoreboard," he said.

Dr. Dunlay says the majority of athletes that ORA sees do not need surgery, like Travis or Gabby. He says surgery is always the last resort and rehab is usually the best way to recover from an injury.