The Little League World Series starts today. Kids from all over the world will be battling it out on the diamond in South Williamsport. It's America's pasttime- and no doubt a lot of fun for the players- but for pitchers especially, the sport of baseball can take a big toll on a little body.
Dr. Dan Feldmann will be watching.
He works in sports medicine and orthopaedics at Geisinger Woodbine Lane in Montour County, and he's been a coach for his sons' baseball teams for years. What he sees might be different than what other fans notice.
"A lot of shoulder pain, a lot of elbow pain, all related to throwing," said Dr. Feldmann.
Kids playing in the Little League program are between 9-12 years of age, several years before the time boys usually stop growing. His worry is the tremendous amount of force on elbows and shoulders from throwing, particularly for pitchers.
"Bruises, contusions an sprains get better without us intervening at all. But these repetitive overuse injuries, over weeks months and seasons, don't get better," said Dr. Feldmann.
Technique is important, but even with good form, Dr. Feldmann points out that it's the repetition that's most damaging. He also says it's important for coaches and parents to be watching out for injury or overuse.
"Everybody figures, well, if I give a kid a couple of weeks off for rest, he'll be back next season, troubles will go away. And typically they don't," he noted.
Geisinger Medical Center's Sports Medicine Department has doctors and trainers who work specifically with young athletes to prevent injury as much as possible. If players, coaches or parents have questions now- or in advance of next year's season- they're available for a consultation.