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Is Playing Baseball Dangerous for Kids?

Northwest Arkansas orthopedic surgeon thinks so, and pens book titled "Play Ball, Play Safe."
LITTLE ROCK, AR - When one thinks of a "dangerous" sport for kids to play, typically the first that comes to mind is football.

Fortunately, in recent years, a number of programs nationwide have helped educate parents, coaches and young athletes on ways to prevent serious injury.

An orthopedic surgeon in Northwest Arkansas says it's time for the sport of baseball to receive the same kind of attention.

"The sad thing is there's a lot of injuries that happen in young kids that may realistically prevent their abilities to play at the next level," says Dr. Wesley Cox.

We've heard the sayings, 'Go hard or go home. What you put into it, is what you get out of it. Always give 110-percent.'

Dr. Cox is a father and coach. He believes 110-percent is what many parents expect from their kids in order to ensure success.

"This notion that he really needs to play this weekend because he wants to play professional baseball, in a 10-year-old, which is a conversation that I hear in my office, we just have to be a little bit better than that," he says.

As a result of this mindset, Dr. Cox has seen an alarming increase in injuries among young athletes, especially those with worn out throwing arms.

"As a sports medicine shoulder and elbow specialist, I see tons of baseball injuries, many of which could have been prevented. I sat down and started putting it in book form and it all just came together," Dr. Cox says.

And "Play Ball, Play Safe" was born.

Released in April of this year, the book is designed for parents and coaches to use as a guide to better cope with the demands on today's young ball players.

"I've had pretty good response from some major league players, several who have came out and frankly endorsed the book with nothing to gain," he says.

One of those players is 7-year major league pitcher and Texarkana native Dustin Moseley, who believes this is an issue that needs to be confronted immediately.

"I think it's really scary. I mean, when I grew up, we played a lot of baseball but not near as much as it is nowadays. And I know from a professional standpoint on all the innings that we throw, basically you're throwing, during the off-season you get a month or two off. Most all of our injuries from my opinion are overuse injuries," Moseley says.

Moseley himself fell victim to injury while pitching for the San Diego Padres in April of last year.

"I started at 10 years old throwing. And back then I threw fastballs, curveballs, everything so I didn't have a real major shoulder injury until I was 30 years old, so you think about all the throwing that I've done since I was 10 years old to make it til 30," he says.

He credits his relentless work ethic for all those years avoiding injury, but it's also that same work ethic that can become dangerous for youngsters.

"Sometimes that's when the coaches and dad have to say, 'Hey, lets back it off here, you're not gonna get any better if you're hurt," Moseley says.

"Kids fatigue. And when they fatigue, their technique changes," explains Dr. Cox.

It's in those technique changes where most injuries occur. Ironically, fatigue is often neglected in younger athletes, while closely monitored at the major league level.

"I mean, if you see a starting pitcher on a Friday night, you're not gonna see him again for several days. You come to these fields around us and the best pitchers are out day after day, day in and day out over and over. I think we just have to do a better job of at least affording our kids the same protection that collegiate and professional athletes get, if not more," says Moseley. "I think that the more parents are educated, the more that the coaches are educated, and the more that the players are educated, it's just gonna be a better world for baseball."

A world where kids play ball but play safe.

Click here for more information about Dr. Cox and his book.
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