Fall sports injuries treated at Davie Medical

Published 10:52 am Thursday, September 8, 2016

By Les Gura

Wake Forest Baptist


Late summer means training for the fall sports season, and that keeps Dr. John Hubbard busy.

Hubbard is an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist with Wake Forest Baptist Health – Davie Medical Center. Two big concerns of his at this time of year are injuries due to heat-related illness and insufficient warm-up or cool-down periods.

His first concern is the heat that can stick around well into September. Practicing football with pads and helmets in the summer can create problems, he said. “Coaches must make sure to give players breaks to cool off and stay hydrated.”

At his clinic at Davie Medical Center is where Hubbard frequently sees his other concern of players with overuse injuries such as stress fractures, shoulder fractures or ligament problems.

Injuries can occur during games or practices, so it is incumbent on the athletes, as well as their coaches and parents, to pay attention to proper training.

“I treat a lot of high school athletes and people in their early 20s,’’ he said. “Common injuries that I see in this group are ACL tears in the knee and instability in the shoulder.”

That’s why Hubbard stresses the importance of stretching, along with allowing your body to warm-up and cool-down before and after playing sports.

Mary Glen Hatcher put her faith in Hubbard to repair the damage she suffered in March 2015 while playing soccer for Mount Airy High School. It was a rainy day, and her left cleat got caught in the mud, she recalled. The force of her body in motion sent her tumbling, her leg landing at an awkward angle.

Local physicians first believed the swelling was from a torn ACL, but after the bruising and swelling didn’t subside, she was referred to Hubbard. He diagnosed a broken kneecap and during a six-hour outpatient surgery at Davie Medical Center, he placed a titanium screw in Hatcher’s leg.

Now, after months of rehabilitation, Hatcher has completely recovered and is starting her sophomore year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Dr. Hubbard made me feel totally safe; I could totally trust him,” Hatcher said after a recent follow-up visit.

She is running close to full strength again, and though she is no longer pursuing soccer as a team sport, she can play for fun if she wants. She credited Hubbard and the Davie Medical Center team for encouraging her throughout her treatment and recovery.

“It’s like you’re the only one there and the attention is all on you,’’ she said.

Hubbard said Hatcher’s ability to get back to normal—only a barely visible scar remains —is par for the course in today’s sports medicine world.

Modern technology identifies injuries more quickly, and repair techniques “are so much better now than just 10 years ago,’’ Hubbard said.

“I think the rate of returning to sports or a normal lifestyle after injuries is much higher,’’ he said, “and down-the-road issues such as arthritis or extremity problems later in life are lower.’’

Hubbard and the orthopaedic team at Davie Medical Center still see many older patients with osteoarthritis as a result of undiagnosed problems when they were young, or old injuries flaring up.

But Hubbard said the same technologies that allow young athletes to recover quickly also help older athletes and retirees get back to the activities they enjoy.