CHICAGO, Dec. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Concerned about the health of young throwers' shoulders and elbows, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors voted this week to implement stricter regulations for high school pitchers. The board agreed to drop the maximum number of pitches in a single game from 115 to 105, effective immediately. For those throwing the maximum number of pitches, the player must rest for four days and only pitch up to 90 pitches in the next game. In addition, ambidextrous pitchers are counted per player, not per arm.
The team physicians for the Chicago White Sox agree these regulations are a step in the right direction. But, are they enough?
Nikhil Verma, M.D., Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) sports medicine physician and head team physician for the Chicago White Sox, has seen a rising number of shoulder and elbow injuries in high school pitchers. He is concerned about the long-term negative impact of a young player's shoulder and elbow health.
"I applaud the IHSA for mandating pitch count monitoring at high school games to protect our high school athletes," Dr. Verma explains. "However, parents, players and coaches should realize that multiple factors - such as throwing velocity and pitching during practices, with pitching coaches and on travel teams - contribute to overuse. Since we are still researching the 'correct' number of safe pitches, I trust we will see continued engagement by the IHSA as further data becomes available."
He and his colleagues have noticed a skyrocketing number of 'Tommy John' surgeries (treatment to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow) among high school athletes. MOR studied patients undergoing this surgery and found that the fastest-growing segment was boys between 15 and 19 years of age. Another study showed the rate at which pitchers experience fatigue is directly proportional to the risk of injury. And, a third study linked speed and pitch count to more injuries among youth pitchers.
Research has shown that prevention helps. Alarmed by the skyrocketing number of young athletes with overuse injuries, the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association and MOR physicians have created "Shoulders for Life" (www.shouldersforlife.org), which includes a downloadable brochure and access to complimentary bag tags with prevention tips.
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SOURCE Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush