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As school districts and leagues resume practices and competitions for the fall after COVID-19 closures, the team of specialized sports medicine doctors at OAK Orthopedics is offering guidance to help protect the health and safety of student-athletes. Athletes or parents and guardians seeking specialized bone, joint and muscle care can schedule a safe appointment in Bradley at 400 S. Kennedy Drive, Suite 100; in Frankfort at 19552 S. Harlem Ave.; in New Lenox at 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., Pavilion A; or in Watseka at 200 Fairman Ave. For an appointment in Bradley or Watseka, patients can call (815) 928-8050 or (815) 469-3452 for an appointment in Frankfort or New Lenox. The Immediate Orthopedic Access clinic at the practice’s Bradley and Frankfort offices as well as telemedicine appointments are also available. 

“We are committed to the health and safety of student-athletes in the game and out in the world,” says Dr. Carey Ellis, board-certified, fellowship-trained sports medicine specialist at OAK Orthopedics. “To help athletes have the safest transition possible back to their school and sports activities, my team and I have developed a comprehensive list of guidelines to keep in mind as athletics resume.”

Student-athletes, parents, guardians and coaches should exercise caution to reduce the risk of viral spread in groups. To reduce this risk as well as the risk of injury, athletes and responsible parties should ensure these protocols and strategies are followed:

  • Follow COVID-19–related regulations for where you are: In addition to maintaining social and physical distancing as best as possible and respecting guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, players, parents and coaches should follow any state, local, school, league and venue regulations set to combat the spread of COVID-19.
  • Pay attention to your health and hygiene: A proper diet, good hydration and getting plenty of rest are key. You should also avoid overtraining and practice good hygiene. Wash your hands, avoid touching your face as much as possible, wear face masks/coverings when appropriate and avoid close physical contact with those outside of your household when able. Other ways to protect your health include:
    • Get medical clearance: Athletes should get a physical from a medical professional, even if they’re training individually, to ensure the safety of their conditioning and intensity of their workouts.
    • Don't push too hard: As COVID-19 guidelines have restricted the activity levels of many, athletes should slowly and cautiously increase their training and skill-building exercises. It is important to pay attention to your limits and pains to avoid injury, immunosuppression or illness. Building back strength and endurance will take time, and even athletes who have remained active will have an adjustment period.
    • Take extra precautions in the heat: As summer rolls on, the risk of heat-related illness is high, especially for those who have remained indoors while following local COVID-19 guidelines. Athletes may need to slowly acclimate themselves to sun and heat. Stretching before activities, staying hydrated and keeping primarily to shaded areas is also important.

“We understand that athletes feel ready to return to the fields, courts and competitions, and we also know that this comes with a number of risks, including injury,” says Dr. Eric Lee board-certified, fellowship-trained sports medicine specialist of OAK Orthopedics. “We are here for local athletes, and we provide the high-level, specialized care and rehabilitative plans needed for sports-related injuries to ensure a safe return to play.”

OAK Orthopedics offers safe appointments in their offices in Bradley, Frankfort, New Lenox and Frankfort. Their providers also offer telemedicine visits in addition to walk-in clinic hours to provide consultation for bone, joint and muscle problems. OAK Orthopedics’ Immediate Orthopedic Access in Bradley and Frankfort offers prompt, specialized care for sprains, fractures, dislocations and other acute or sports-related injuries. Injury walk-ins are welcome and no appointment is necessary Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment with the sports medicine experts at OAK Orthopedics, please visit oakortho.com.