Former Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and Dr. Chuck Bush-Joseph of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush will headline a seminar on injury awareness and prevention Tuesday night at Hinsdale Central High School that will cover the top five sports injuries, which include concussions as well as injuries to the knees, shoulders, back, and wrists.
Bush-Joseph, who also serves as the team physician for the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls, said it's important to get more information out there about common sports injuries because we live in an age where the number of three-sport athletes is dwindling, and sport specialization early on can increase the odds of injury.
"Kids who play 12-months-a-year baseball are significantly more likely to get injured than those playing nine months or six months," Bush-Joseph said.
"We’re breeding better athletes, but the downside is more overuse injuries."
According to a release from Rush, more than 200,000 athletes nationwide sustain an ACL injury each year, possibly the fastest-growing injury among youth athletes. Citing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Rush release says up to 3.8 million athletes sustain a concussion every year. and nationwide, emergency department visits for concussions increased 62 percent between 2001 and 2009.
"Consequently," the release reads, "many states are implementing laws to reduce the long-term impact of concussions on the brains of young athletes. One year ago, Illinois enacted its student-athlete concussion bill, which requires baseline screenings, parent consent to play forms and concussion education for all coaches."
Bush-Joseph likened the concussion phenomenon to a pendulum. After years of the pendulum on the side of inattention, it's swung the other way and parents are much more aware and cautious when it comes to concussions.
"We’re not talking about scholarship and professional athletes," he said. "We’re talking about high school and young kids. So I don’t think we can be too cautious."
Hillenmeyer, who played for the Bears from 2003 to 2010, dealt with concussions as an NFL player—one actually forced him to retire in 2010—and now is a concussion-safety advocate. At Tuesday's seminar he will tell his story and offer prevention tips to parents and youth athletes.
The event takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. It is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. To register, or for more information, visit www.rushortho.com.