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.

More articles about sports:

Kids and Common Sports Injuries


“One of the most common sports injuries I see every week is pain in an extremity from chronic repetitive stress, whether it is at the elbow, the wrist, the ankle, the knee or the foot,” says Dr. Schlechter. “Those are definitely the most common sports-related injuries in children that are less traumatic and nonoperative, most of the time. They can be prevented by activity modification, rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and a good stretching program,” he recommends.


A general rule of thumb to reduce injury, says Dr. Schlechter, is for children to not play one sport year-round. They should engage in multiple sports. “For instance, if your child is a baseball player, they should probably cross-train and participate in maybe football, track, and basketball instead of baseball year-round, with a three-month period of rest. That’s a good preventative strategy,” he suggests. Another  piece of advice: Don’t play through pain.


“In general, most musculoskeletal injuries, for them to be fully healed, can take 12 to 16 weeks. Most children  start feeling better after resting two  to four weeks. They tend to go back  to sports too soon. Definitely take the  full time to recover,” he says.


“Every football season and the start of soccer season, I’ll see a flurry of patients with foot and ankle pain and those are usually growth plate-related conditions, stress injuries to the bone of the feet,” he says. Dr. Schlechter suggests saving the cleats for game situations only, not every day conditioning.


  • The number of minutes you should apply ice to an injury: 15 to 20 minutes
  • The number of childhood sports injuries in the U.S. each year: 3.5 million
  • The amount of time children should rest between sports activities: 3 months

View the full feature on Kids and Common Sports Injuries

Dr. John Schlecter
Dr. John A. Schlechter
CHOC Orthopedic Surgeon


Dr. Schlechter completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Riverside County Regional Medical Center, where he is the director of orthopedic education and research. He completed a pediatric orthopedic and scoliosis fellowship at Rady’s Children’s Hospital San Diego as well as a post-fellowship preceptorship in sports medicine and arthroscopy at the Orthopedic Specialty Institute in Orange, CA.

Dr. Schlechter’s philosophy of care: “I try to treat the child and not the parent, and make sure the athletes understand their conditions and the rationale of why they might need to have some rest and what  the potential unwanted outcomes could be if they don’t get rest.”

New York College of Osteopathic Medicine

Orthopedic Surgery

More about Dr. Schlechter | More about the CHOC Orthopaedic Institute

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on November 19, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.

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.

Related articles:

  • Living with Scoliosis: Jennifer’s Story
    Jennifer was diagnosed with scoliosis at 8 years old. After several lifestyle modifications and dedication to wearing a back brace, she was able to avoid scoliosis surgery.
  • Warming Up to Wound Care: Nico’s Story
    Nico’s birth was full of surprises for his mom Jennifer. The biggest one being that he was a boy, when all along she had been expecting a daughter. That wasn’t ...
  • Meet Dr. Kelly Davis
    Dr. Kelly Davis specializes in sports injuries, injury prevention, concussion management and advanced musculoskeletal ultrasound medicine for children, adolescents and young adults. Among the most common diagnoses she sees include ...

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.

Related articles: