The worst injuries that can happen to athletes are arguably those that may be permanently debilitating. Not only can these injuries end a career, they can end living a normal life. Perhaps most interesting, the five injuries listed below are injuries that most people do not think about being unusual when playing professional sports. Professional athletes are often faced with a tough question after sustaining injuries that do not take them out immediately:
Do they end their careers early or follow doctor orders?
Worst Injury #1: Hammer Toe
Hammer toe is often associated with old ladies that have worn stilettos for a little too long. However, hammer toe is an injury that can end athletic careers. Athletes often must choose whether to play for the season and risk extensive damage to their feet or risk the deformity growing worse over time. Surgical correction of hammer toe involves some downtime, and there has been an ongoing debate as to whether it is best to undergo orthopedic surgery that is more likely to offer a permanent solution or worsen the condition by continuing to engage in athletic activities without any downtime.
Worst Injury #2: Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI has been a buzzword almost every football season. Football players sign up to play a contact sport that often results in getting knocked in the head. However, sometimes helmets cannot provide enough protection from serious injury. Athletes that play contact sports are not the only ones at risk for TBI. Head injuries are also commonly seen in sports that are played without a team, such as figure skating and horseback riding.
Worst Injury #3: Spinal Injuries
Injuries sustained to the back and neck can cause loss of nerve sensation and chronic pain. Compacted disks in the back and neck can require extensive surgical intervention to correct. Often, spinal injuries cannot be adequately addressed with surgery or physical therapy. It is common for athletes to experience spinal injuries when lifting weights, playing contact sports, and playing sports that are not contact sports by definition.
Worst Injury #4: Metatarsophalangeal Joint Sprain (Turf Toe)
This foot injury can also be crippling or career ending for many athletes. It has been nicknamed “turf toe” as it is commonly seen in athletes that play on artificial turf. Athletes are often faced with a very real dilemma when addressing foot injuries that do not automatically bench them. Should they sacrifice their careers now or their ability to walk and run easily later on?
Worst Injury #5: Torn ACL
For most people, a torn ACL can either heal itself or be fixed with a simple surgery. However, athletes often have to decide whether or not they are willing to follow post-operative instructions, some or which include avoiding certain activities almost indefinitely.
Crippling or Career Ending?
Professional athletes have to make a choice that most active people that sustain various injuries do not. Is it worth being crippled and suffering chronic pain for life to lengthen a career as a pro athlete for a few years? Perhaps a star basketball player might sacrifice a right knee to lengthen a career that will pay millions. The average active person might place more value on seeing a professional and finding low impact sports to enjoy in the future.
Please feel free to contact Ella Gray at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.