ASSIGNMENT 13: Injury Time-out

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- With kids working out and playing sports throughout the year, doctors and trainers say they are increasing their chances of getting hurt. WEAU's Bob Gallaher profiles a trio of local three-sport athletes who have been injured on the court and on the field.

Studies shows 30-million children and teenagers take part in youth sports in the United States each year. Emergency rooms are kept busy as high school athletes account for two-million injuries and more than 500,000 doctor visits every year.

Tonight, these three local athletes say their passion to compete prevails over the pain.

September 26th began as an exciting Friday night for Elk Mound's Dane Lew, the sophomore quarterback had thrown for one touchdown and run for another score against rival Colfax. But late in the third quarter, Dane's season ended in an instant, he broke his ankle as he was tackled on this play.

Coach Dave Lew says, "Especially, it happened right in front of us, to see something like that to your own son..."

Dane would watch the rest of Elk Mound's season from the sideline, his ankle required surgery to insert a steel plate and screw, he faces four-to-six month's of recovery. His basketball and baseball seasons are in jeopardy. And despite his serious injury, his dad and Dane both believe participating in multiple sports is a good thing.

Coach Lew says, "I think kids need to play more than one sport, cross training, I have a big belief in Elk Mound, you can ask everyone in the community, I think kids should play three sports."

Dane Lew, a sophomore at Elk Mound High School agrees, "I'm busy all year round, and always working hard, being in the weight room, doing different lifts for different sports, I think that makes me a better athlete."

Eau Claire Regis senior standout Jaxon Brown is one of the top high school football players in Western Wisconsin, verbally committed to play at North Dakota State next year. Jaxon broke his ankle in September, but thanks to vigorous therapy was able to return in time to help the Ramblers in the post-season.

Jaxon Brown says, "If you're playing year round, the chances, the percentages are a lot greater that you might get hurt..."

Jaxon also excels in hockey and track, he believes his year-round training was the key to his quick return.

Brown says, "A lot of people don't see what happens behind the scenes, they don't see all the training people do, some people have the God-given talent while a lot of people have to work for it."

Brown rehabbed with Austin Crow, a doctor at Chippewa Valley Orthopedics, Crow admits three-sport athletes are more at risk for acute and overuse injuries.

Dr. Austin Crow says, "If you are going to play ten snaps of football versus a thousand snaps of football, there is going to be a hundred-fold increase of an injury, and so that's for the acute side."

Crow adds that all sports have different stresses on the body, the key is to listen to it, "Pain is not normal, the old saying, 'No pain, no gain', that's not true. When you're body is hurting it's telling you a message that something is wrong and you need to listen to that."

"My second ACL definitely took me for a whirl, why does this keep happening...."

Altoona's KaSandra Springer has endured her share of pain, ACL injuries to both her knees wiped out the majority of her first two years as a Rails athlete.

Springer says, "The rehab, it starts off, you're like, oh it's not too hard, but once you get back in your day-to-day stuff, it really gets harder..."

Anita Coenen has been the Athletic Trainer at Altoona High School for the past ten years, she says KaSandra is one of the most determined athletes she's ever worked with. Coenen believes Springer has been smart in not trying to come back too soon.

Coenen says, "We are definitely seeing more overuse injuries with our athletes, meaning once they start to feel pain, they are trying to push through it, and that is setting them back further and further."

Research from Orthopedics Today shows high school athletes who don't take time off between back-to-back seasons run the risk of injury or burnout.

Bob Gallaher says, "A common perception among parents, children and coaches is that athletes who are not playing for the entire year are losing that competitive advantage over somebody who is playing year round."

Austin Crow says, "If you participate in a sport 365 days out of the year versus someone who is playing six months out of the year, you are not going to see one athlete being two times better than the other."

For Dane, Jaxon, and KaSandra, they all share a common bond, three-sport athletes who love to compete.

Coach Dave Lew says, "They only get one chance in high school to do this, I think for any kid, if they can handle it, if they want to do it, then they should be able to do it."

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