WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Athletic trainer Mike Mirabella and Dr. Louis McIntyre walk the sidelines at White Plains High School football games looking for players who may need assistance or medical care and hoping they will enjoy watching an injury-free game.
We work with the players through their training, weight programs and other aspects of their physical preparation, Mirabella said. On game day its a matter of keeping the players hydrated before the game, a pre-game meal, then being there for anything from muscle cramps, pulled muscles or more serious injuries.
McIntyre, an orthopedic physician who specializes in sports medicine, arthroscopy and knee and shoulder surgery, is affiliated with White Plains Hospital, which coordinates with the school to ensure the health of the athletes. Mirabella and McIntyre provide immediate care for players who may be experiencing muscles cramps, minor cuts and bruises and the occasional separated shoulder or pulled muscle.
Both men are aware that football, as well as other sports that have less contact, can involve broken bones, torn ligaments and concussions. Doctors are on-hand at every high school football game and most teams have trainers who work with the schools athletes.
Footballs strength training program focuses on explosive power because those are the type of movements used in football, Mirabella said. We also focus on flexibility using a dynamic flexibility program before practice. Our coach Skip Stevens also brought in a yoga instructor to help work on flexibility during the off season and preseason."
Mirabella said his goal is to build strength and flexibility to keep the athletes limber and prevent injury.
In female sports, we focus on reducing ACL knee injuries, the trainer said, referring to anterior cruciate ligament. This focuses on core strengthening and a plyometric program."
In recent years, all levels of football, baseball and other sports from the National Football League down have been more proactive in regard to concussions and Mirabella and McIntyre believe that awareness has helped protect players.
There are going to be concussions in football because of the nature of the game, McIntyre said. The helmet can protect the head from injury, but concussion occurs when the brain moves inside the skull, so the helmet cant prevent that. Whats important is to detect the concussion and keep the player off the field until it is safe for him to play.
Mirabella said the athlete should not return to activity until cleared by a doctor and is symptom-free at rest and without exertion. Most concussions resolve within seven to 10 days, but can last longer especially in younger children. He noted that many concussions go unreported.
Parents should look for one or more symptoms such as headache, dizziness, problems processing or concentrating, poor balance, irritability, feeling foggy or even if the parent feels the child is not acting like themselves, Mirabella said. They do not have to have a headache to be concussed. If any of these symptoms are present, the athlete should be removed from competition and be evaluated by the family doctor or a sport concussion specialist.
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