DURHAM, N.C. — For millions of children, summer means sports. With the school year almost over, it is also time to think about summer sports safety.
Over the years, Blake Turvey, 16, has had his share of injuries -- including dislocating his elbow 12 times.
"I've been playing soccer since I was little," he said. "I've been dislocating my elbow since I was 7 or 8. Just the weirdest things you can think of, I've done it."
More than 3 million children are injured playing sports each year. Many of those injuries happen during the summer. Experts say one of the biggest reasons is children try to do too much, too soon.
"Suddenly the season is there and they go very hard very quickly," said Dr. Louis Almekinders, a Durham orthopedic surgeon.
Almekinds suggests children start slowly and build up endurance. If your child does get hurt, he says use common sense.
"Bruising, bleeding, deformities -- those are things that need to be evaluated that day," Almekinders said.
Fortunately, children tend to recover faster and better than adults.
"They tend to respond quite well and rehab is often easier than when they get older," Almekinders said.
Last summer, Almekinders surgically repaired Blake's elbow. The teenager had to sit out the summer soccer season. Now that his elbow is 100 percent, Blake is ready to get back in the game.
"I can do pretty much everything I used to be able to do," he said.
While most injuries are not serious, young athletes are susceptible to growth plate injuries.
Repetitive motion and vigorous activity can stress the growth plates near the ends of leg and arm bones. Exercising and following a strengthening program in the off season can help reduce injury.