BACK 2 SCHOOL: Knowing when to see a doctor after a sports injury

One local softball player’s injury is eye-opening for many young athletes.

To prevent further damage or have it heal the wrong

HOUSTON – As student-athletes return to practices, one doctor in warning athletes to have every injury checked out within a few weeks or risk further damage having it healed the wrong way.

Nadia Moreno said she worried her playing days were over when she was just 11 years old. She slid into a base, her finger caught the side and broke.

Her family took her to urgent care where the staff referred her to Dr. Wendy Chen, UTHealth pediatric plastic surgeon with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Dr. Chen warns that instead of popping joints back into place, you need medical attention to determine the extent of the injury.

“Everybody’s had a story of themselves or their friend where they had a finger and they put it back or something, but I think particularly with pediatric athletes you have the additional concept of ‘is the growth plate involved and has it been injured or how should this be managed?’” Dr. Chen said.

Since children heal faster than adults, she says not to delay seeing a doctor.

“There are some things that once it heals too quickly you’re looking at a different type of interventions to maybe fix it,” Chen said. “You can go from ‘you could’ve avoided an operation to now you need an operation.’”

Nadia was able to make a full recovery and did rehab to make sure she could return to softball.

Dr. Chen said it may take a while to get an appointment with a specialist, so while you wait, take pictures of the changes. Seeing where the injury is red or swelling over time can help them better determine the type of injury.