Now that school sports schedules are filling up your family’s calendar again, parents and caregivers need to be aware of resources to utilize in case your child suffers from a sports injury. And if you live on or near the north side of Indianapolis, these resources may be closer and more convenient than you think. Dr. Robert G. Tysklind is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Riley Pediatric Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, and we spoke with him recently about youth sports injuries and the new pediatric walk-in clinic at Riley Children’s Health at IU Health North.
How can young athletes prevent pain and injury during athletic activities?
Preventing pain and injury is more important than ever because children are currently returning to sports after a long period of not playing due to the pandemic. Dr. Tysklind recommends developing a routine of stretching and a gradual return to physical activity. “There is a lot of research on this and the way I describe it to patients is to gradually return within a six-week period,” says Dr. Tysklind. “When you start back, start at 50% physical activity and increase your activity by about 10% each week until you get back to that 100%.” This will help reduce any injuries your child could potentially suffer if they jump right back in at full speed.
The goal is to ease back into playing. The Riley Pediatric Orthopedics & Sports Medicine team at IU Health North Hospital runs into an increase in injuries seen at the clinic when students get back into sports too much too soon without allowing their bodies to ease back into physical activity.
What can parents do to support their child’s health as they play youth sports this year?
Open communication is key, with everyone involved. If your child feels pain anywhere, make sure you communicate this with your child’s coach or emphasize to your child to be open and honest with the coaching staff about the injury. They should not fight through the pain because that could cause a major issue in the long run.
Another important factor in reducing injuries and supporting your child’s health as they play youth sports is understanding what Dr. Tysklind calls “sports specialization.” Injuries can escalate in kids who play a year-round sport – playing with multiple teams, multiple times a year, known as single-sport specialization.
Dr. Tysklind highly suggests your child should have dedicated periods of time off from the sport, whether that be during summer or doing a different sport altogether. Give them the opportunity to rest. “A lot of successful athletes are multi-sport athletes and are able to use different body parts,” says Dr. Tysklind. They don’t get as run down since they are giving themselves proper rest and downtime.
What are the most common sports-related injuries among children, and how do you and your team care for these injuries?
Within the Riley Pediatric Orthopedics & Sports Medicine team, non-surgical sports medicine injuries are the most common. Dr. Tysklind explains, “We see a lot of patients with overuse injuries of the knee, shoulder, and elbow.” In their operative surgery practice, by far the most common injuries are related to the knee, such as ACL tears or meniscus tears. In the developing knee, the ACL can be stronger than the bone it is attached to. This could lead to a fracture of the tibia as opposed to a tear of the ACL, which does require urgent orthopedic evaluation. Other common injuries are dislocated shoulders, elbow overuse injuries, cartilage problems, as well as injuries to the growth plate.
When your child is injured with a sports-related injury, you can rely on the team to guide you through the entire process, from the initial visit to injury diagnosis to possible surgery and post-operation appointments and rehabilitation.
What if my child needs physical therapy after an injury? Do you coordinate this care for my child?
Yes! We work closely with an on-site athletic trainer and the IU Health North rehabilitation department to coordinate this care beginning at the initial diagnosis. Following x-ray imaging, the diagnosis is explained in detail, giving the patient and their caregivers options or different routes to take whether that be surgery and/or therapy.
If a patient needs a focused therapy, an example being a gymnastic-focused physical therapist, Dr. Tysklind and his team assist in coordinating that care for the patient within IU Health North.
How many pediatric orthopedic surgeons do you have on staff at Riley Children’s Health at IU Health North?
At IU Health North, there are eight providers including pediatric orthopedic surgeons and advanced practice providers. The specialties of providers range from sports injuries to general orthopedics to spine deformation and even cerebral palsy therapy.
In addition to IU Health North, the Riley Pediatric Orthopedics & Sports Medicine team offers care at multiple other locations across the state with additional providers committed to ensuring children receive leading-edge care with superior outcomes. Learn more here.
Do you offer virtual visits? What is that experience like for a sports injury?
Yes, virtual visits are offered, and it’s a great option for a lot of families with busy schedules. It’s also ideal for those not living on or near the north side, or for those that are not able to travel to the medical office for a visit.
Not everything can be seen virtually – some diagnoses do need to be evaluated in person – but many situations can be evaluated virtually. Post-operation appointments are a great virtual option because incisions can be viewed on camera as well as assessing swelling after surgery. This also allows the patient to continue their recovery in the comfort of their home versus having to travel to the hospital.
Tell us a little about the pediatric walk-in clinic at Riley Children’s Health at IU Health North. Does this service require patients or a pediatrician to call ahead of time to receive care? What are the hours?
The walk-in clinic is a new and convenient resource for patients and their families. Dr. Tysklind wants to emphasize that the walk-in clinic is best for those suffering from an acute injury – such as an injury to the shoulder, knee, hip, etc. – within a week or two from that injury. The walk-in clinic does not serve those suffering from chronic pain, but the Riley Orthopedic providers are happy to see these conditions with a scheduled appointment.
You do not need to set up an appointment or call ahead to utilize these services. Patients can walk in between the hours of 9 am and 3:30 pm. The wait time is minimal, and in fact, since the start of this location’s walk-in clinic, the team at IU Health North has received a lot of great feedback on the minimal wait times for patients. The Riley Pediatric Orthopedics & Sports Medicine team makes waiting easier for patients as they are able to fit patients into their schedule, depending on who is on-site that day. Also, you don’t need to have your x-ray imaging done prior to coming to the walk-in clinic. The proper equipment is readily available for efficient and effective imaging.
For more information on the walk-in clinic at Riley at IU Health North, visit RileyAtNorth.org.
About Dr. Robert G. Tysklind, MD
Dr. Robert G. Tysklind specializes in Orthopedic Surgery for Riley Pediatric Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Dr. Tysklind earned his medical degree at Indiana University School of Medicine. He then completed a residency at Cleveland Clinic – Akron General and a fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Tysklind’s primary location is Riley Pediatric Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, 11725 N Illinois St, Carmel IN, 46032. When he is not at IU Health North or seeing patients at the Riley walk-in clinic, he also sees patients at an office in Indianapolis.
Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health North Hospital provides nationally ranked pediatric care alongside the most highly skilled physicians and nurses in the state. Whether your child needs primary, specialty, inpatient or emergency care, we are here to support you and your family. Learn more at RileyAtNorth.org.