April 14, 2014

Children from wealthier families might get the short end of the lacrosse stick when it comes to overuse injuries.     Photo: Paul Vasarhelyi/Thinkstock

Wealthier Athletes Get More Overuse Injuries

More money, more problems

Young athletes who comes from higher-income families are more likely to suffer from overuse injuries, according to new research from the Loyola University Medical Center. The same athletes are also twice as likely to specialize in one sport.

The study explains this link using health insurance data. Athletes ranging from ages seven to 18 whose families have private health insurance suffer from serious overuse injuries (defined as ailments that force them to the sidelines for six months or longer) 68 percent more often than their lower-income counterparts who are covered by Medicaid.

"Intense specialization in one sport can cost thousands of dollars a year," said Neeru Jayanthi, one of the study's authors. "Having the financial resources to afford such costs may provide increased opportunities for young athletes to participate in a single sport."

Previous research has linked specialization to higher rates of overuse injury, but the new study confirms the economic aspect.

"Young athletes with this type of training appear to be at greater risk for serious overuse injuries than those who have fewer financial resources," said Lara Dugas, another study author.

Publicly and privately insured athletes alike spend about 10 hours per week playing organized sports, but 30 percent of privately insured athletes are highly specialized in a single sport, compared to 18 percent of publicly insured athletes. Only 8 percent of publicly insured athletes surveyed suffered serious overuse injuries; 13 percent of privately insured athletes suffered the same type of injuries.

The study's authors think time spent doing unstructured physical activities—such as pickup basketball games—could have something to do with it. Publicly insured athletes spent 7.1 hours per week doing such activities, compared to about 5.2 hours per week among privately insured athletes. The study's authors say more unstructured physical activity could reduce the risk of overuse injuries but caution that further research is needed to confirm that hypothesis.

For now, young athletes should consider Jayanthi's evidence-based advice to reduce the risk of overuse injuries:

  • Participate in as much unstructured free play as possible, and avoid spending more than twice as much time playing organized sports as unstructured ones.
  • Use age as a rule of thumb when determining how many hours to play sports per week. A 10-year-old should spend a maximum of 10 hours per week playing sports, while a 12-year-old could play sports two hours more per week, and so on.
  • Take a day off every week from training, and take one to three months off per year.
  • Avoid specializing in a single sport until late adolescence.

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One bear is just as scary as five.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Florida Woman Attacked by One Bear, Not Five

Seminole County loaded with bears

A central Florida woman is recovering after being seriously injured in a bear attack Saturday night. Initial reports claimed that Terri Frana was attacked by five bears simultaneously, but the state's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has since confirmed that it was just one bear (probably with the power of five bears).

Frana reportedly left the garage door of her suburban Lake Mary home open. When she returned to take out the trash, she came upon a bear rooting through the refuse. The bear turned and attacked her, taking her head in its mouth and dragging her towards a wooded area outside the house. Frana was able to escape from the bear's maw and make her way back inside the house. She is currently recovering after receiving 30 staples and ten stitches in her head. "It was short, it was quick, but it was a close call," said Frana's husband Frank.

Bear incidents have become a serious problem in Seminole County, with 44 nuisance reports filed in the past year. In response to the attack, the FWC has captured and put down four bears in the area. It is unclear whether the responsible bear was among the dead.

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Michael Phelps resumed training in fall 2013 and reentered the U.S. drug-testing program. After six months, he is now eligible for competition by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.    

Michael Phelps Ends Retirement

Looks to Rio

On April 24 to 26, Michael Phelps will compete for the first time since the London Olympics. According to the Associated Press, the 22-time Olympic medalist will swim the 100-meter butterfly and the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events at the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Arizona. The meet is likely a first step toward the 2016 Games in Rio.

"I think he's just going to test the waters a little bit and see how it goes," said Phelps's coach, Bob Bowman. "I wouldn't say it's a full-fledged comeback."

Phelps, who turns 29 in June, could conceivably compete for at least another decade. After all, five-time Olympic swimmer Dara Torres took home two silver medals at the Beijing Games at the age of 41.

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Marie-France Roy of Canada catches some air on the slopestlye course at the Winter X games.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

IOC Says Slopestyle Too Dangerous

Should be removed from Olympic competition

Shaun White withdrew from the Olympic snowboard slopestyle debut one day before the competition, fearful that he might be injured. He probably took notes from Norway's Torstein Horgmo, who broke a collarbone in a training crash at the start of the Games. "The potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympic goals on," White said.

If you ask the International Olympic Committee, he made the right choice. In an interview with the Associated Press last week, IOC representative Lars Engebretsen said that the sport—which involves both skiers and snowboarders jumping, flipping, and twisting above obstacles—produced an "unacceptably high" number of injuries at the Sochi Winter Games. 

Engebretsen, head of scientific activities at the IOC's medical and scientific department, also stated that he would like to see the event removed from future Olympic competition. 

"I can say what I feel: That sport should change, otherwise we shouldn't have it. But the IOC may not follow that," he told the AP. 

An International Ski Federation official said the IOC's reports of high injury rates are premature. FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis told NBCSports.com that Engebretson's statements regarding the event's safety were personal comments that do not represent the position of the IOC.

"It would be premature to comment on the quantity and quality of injuries that occurred as the full IOC Injury and Illness Surveillance Study conducted by the IOC Medical Commission has not yet been finalized," she said.

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The ZaZZZ was unveiled on April 12 at Herbal Elements in Vail, Colorado.     Photo: Herbal Elements/Twitter

Pot Vending Machine Revealed

Inventory of edibles

American Green, a vending manufacturer, has released the first marijuana vending machine. Called the ZaZZZ, the machines will sell pot and assorted edibles inside dispensaries with hopes of making business move faster in the ever-growing marijuana retail industry.

"They would swipe their driver's license, at which point multiple cameras would allow us to use some advanced biometrics to make absolutely certain that the person who swiped the card is the owner of that card," said Stephen Shearin, CEO of Tranzbyte, which owns American Green.

The first ZaZZZ unit was installed at a dispensary in Eagle-Vail, Colorado, where shop owner Greg Honan is eagerly awaiting its benefits. "You can really stack inventory in a safe manner in a concentrated area. … There's no theft issue, there's no product disappearing," Honan explained.

A radio frequency identification chip will reportedly track each product sold, and the developers aren't worried about the marijuana getting into the wrong hands. "I'm a father of a 12-year-old daughter, and I wouldn't want her having access to it, so we paid close attention to that," Shearin said.

Initially, ZaZZZ vending machines will not be placed in public locations, but only in licensed dispensaries.

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A new study shows that the poor guy living in the woods might be happier than the CEO living in a green-free city.     Photo: hkeita/Thinkstock

Cities with Trees Have Happier Residents

Green spaces correlate with lower rates of depression

If you've been looking for a natural pick-me-up, get like Thoreau and move to the woods. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that people who live in communities with more green space reported feeling lower levels of depression and anxiety.

Kirsten Malecki, an assistant professor of population health sciences, and her team compared mental health data gleaned from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin with satellite imaging of tree-cover density in the state's census blocks. Their findings show that a correlation between green space, anxiety, and depression holds true even when controlling for variables such as income, age, education, and race

People who live in neighborhoods with less than a 10 percent tree canopy were the most likely to report feeling blue. But moving from a concrete jungle into a more literal one isn't the only way to improve your mood. Malecki suggests making changes in your own backyard. "The greening of neighborhoods could be a simple solution to reducing stress," she said in a UW press release. "If you want to feel better, go outside."

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Niki Terpstra on his way to victory at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.     Photo: Bernard Papon/Associated Press

Terpstra Wins Paris-Roubaix

Surprise victory at famous road race

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) powered away from an elite group of favorites to win his first-ever Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.

It's a surprise victory for the Dutchman, who had to slip clear of a breakaway that included top contenders such as Tom Boonen, Peter Sagan, and Fabian Cancellara. Defending champion Cancellara finished third in the cobbled classic. 

"To take the win in the biggest classic of all is a dream come true," Terpstra told VeloNews. "It's a race that suits me well. My shape this year was really good, so I was motivated for a good result. The team was good in the end."

Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky took ninth place, while Taylor Phinney of BMC Racing finished in 30th.

This is the 112th edition of the Paris-Roubaix cycling classic, a 160-mile one-day road race through northern France. More than 30 miles of the course are over cobblestones.

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Char replaces the beauty of Valparaiso's hillside.     Photo: Pablo Rojas Madariaga/Sipa USA

Valparaiso Still Ablaze

Wildfire spread from a forested ravine into the city

Chileans abandoned their vehicles and ran from a wildfire that engulfed 2,000 homes in the Pacific coastal city of Valparaiso late Saturday.

"This won't be extinguished, not today nor tomorrow," Chile's national emergency office tweeted Sunday afternoon after issuing a red alert for the 42 densely populated hills surrounding Valparaiso, Al Jazeera reported. High winds whipped flames over the hills late Sunday night and prevented some 1,200 firefighters, supported by 17 aircraft, from establishing firebreaks. 

The city and surrounding hills—now declared a catastrophe zone by President Michelle Bachelet—house 250,000 Chileans in Technicolored homes (Valparaiso's vibrancy put it on UNESCO's World Heritage map). So far, 10,000 of those residents have been evacuated, according to CNN. Twelve people have died.

Entire communities lack municipal water lines and fire hydrants, according to NPR, and the grade on some of the hills is too steep for water trucks to climb. "We have been the builders and architects of our own danger," said Castro.

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