CHOC Experts Discuss Sports Injury Prevention

Early specialization and lack of diversity are more common in young athletes today and can increase the chances of injury, two CHOC Children’s experts tell “American Health Journal.”

A lack of rest and chronic repetitive stress can lead to overuse and injuries, say Dr. John Schlechter, a CHOC orthopedic surgeon, and Mollee Smith, a physical therapist at CHOC. Following an injury, CHOC clinicians work with both the child and the family to ensure proper healing and future injury prevention.

Learn more about sports injury prevention in “American Health Journal,” a television program that airs on PBS and other national network affiliates that reach more than 40 million households.

Each 30-minute episode features six segments with a diverse range of medical specialists discussing a full spectrum of health topics. For more information, visit

John Schlechter, D.O., attended medical school at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine at the New York Institute of Technology. He completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Riverside County Regional Medical Center. He completed a pediatric orthopedic and scoliosis fellowship at Children’s Hospital San Diego as well as a post-fellowship preceptorship in sports medicine and arthroscopy at the Orthopedic Specialty Institute in Orange, Calif.

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Dr. John Schlechter Talks About Overuse Injuries in Children

In this CHOC Radio expert interview, Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. John Schlechter dropped by Seacrest Studios to talk about overuse injuries in children. Many children today are involved in sports and some kids even specialize in one type of sport at a young age. Repetitive use of the same bones and joints can cause stress on growing bodies and may result in injury. Dr. Schlechter talks about common overuse injuries, what causes them and how they are treated. He emphasizes that recovery is key and that kids need to recover slowly before they can get back into the game.

Dr. Schlechter is a board certified fellowship trained Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopy for children and adolescents.

Enjoy the show.

Click here for more CHOC Radio episodes.

Learn more about the CHOC Children’s Sports Program.

Taking Care of Your Child’s Cast

Broken bones, or fractures, are a common childhood hazard, particularly for kids in sports.  While it can happen in a split second, a broken bone takes time to heal and may often require a cast.  The experts at the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute understand that kids with casts – and their parents – have lots of questions.  Dr. John Schlechter, CHOC orthopeadic surgeon, recently sat down to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions he and his colleagues receive.

Q: What material is a cast made of, and what does the cast do?
A: There are two types of cast – one made of hard plaster and the other a fiberglass shell.  Both work to prevent movement of the broken or fractured bone, and allow proper healing to occur.  The amount of time a cast has to remain on a child depends on the type of injury.

Q: Can my child take a bath or shower with her cast on?
A: Unless a child is wearing a special waterproof cast, she should not get her cast wet. This is best avoided by taking a sponge bath, while still covering the cast with several layers of a towel or plastic bags. In the event a cast gets wet, dry it with a hair dryer on the cool setting.

Q:  How do I can get my child a waterproof cast?
A: Not all fractures are suitable for a waterproof cast. If a child can have a waterproof cast, his parent must request it.  These special casts, which can be completely submerged in fresh water, are available at additional costs and not typically covered by insurance.

Q: Do I need to elevate my child’s arm?
A: Elevating the affected limb for the first 24 hours significantly reduces the natural swelling that occurs after an injury.  Place the injured limb above the level of the child’s heart (the “high five” position for arm injuries), using pillows as support.  Moving fingers or toes on the affected limb may also assist in swelling.

Q: What can be done to alleviate itching under the cast?
A:  Tapping on the cast or blowing cool air inside the cast with a hair dryer can help alleviate itching.  Under no circumstances should an object be placed under the cast to scratch.  This may cause injury or infection.  If the itching becomes severe or persistent, speak to the child’s physician.

Q: How do I know if my child’s cast is too tight or too loose?
A: The most common symptoms of a cast that is too tight are:
• Numbness, tingling
• Increased pain
• Change in skin color compared to the unaffected limb (pale or blue, by comparison)
• New swelling of the fingers or toes

Keep in mind that swelling is expected in the first 24-72 hours, which may make the cast feel tight.  Elevating the injured limb should help reduce the swelling.  Once the swelling subsides, the case may then feel loose.  As long as the child cannot move the limb under the cast or take the cast off, he is fine.

Q: Is it normal for my child’s cast to smell?
A: Unfortunately, cast odor is normal since the affected limb cannot be bathed.  Never apply powder or perfume on or inside the cast.

Q. Can my child resume normal activities?
A: Children should enjoy being kids, and there should be no restrictions to activities of daily living.  However, they should avoid activities that can damage the cast, including getting it wet, or re-injure the limb.  This may include swimming, bicycle riding, skate boarding, contact sports, etc.

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Tips to Prevent Common Sports Injuries for Female Athletes

Do you have a young female athlete at home? Check out this segment from American Health Journal, where Dr. John Schlechter, orthopaedic surgeon at CHOC Children’s, discusses how to prevent sports injuries for female athletes.

Learn more about the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute, ranked among the best in the nation.

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Keep Your Little Athletes Safe

Did you know April is Youth Sports Safety Month? The national campaign focuses public attention on the prevalent problem of high injury rates in youth sports and promotes safety in sports participation.

While sports injuries are common, making sure your child is prepared can help prevent some of the most common ones. Football is the one CHOC Children’s sees the most injuries from, according to John Schlechter, D.O., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at CHOC.  The most common injuries we see are strains, sprains, bumps and simple bone fractures, he says.

He and the team of doctors at the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute also treat more serious injuries, such as shoulder dislocation, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and concussions.

Many of these injuries are from overuse and overtraining, so it’s important for parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of overtraining, Dr. Schlechter explains. These symptoms include:

  • Poor performance
  • Not meeting training goals
  • Not wanting to practice
  • Getting tired easily
  • Being irritable or not wanting to cooperate

Playing a sport more than 20 hours a week can increase the risk for injury. Dr. Schlechter also stresses the importance of wearing protective gear and drinking plenty of fluids when playing sports. But above all, parents should listen to their children. If your child feels too tired, hurt or ill to play, let him or her sit on the sidelines, Dr. Schlechter says.

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