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The Mackie Report 

Keeping Young Athletes Healthy

For the last 29 years, I have been pioneering a field on the national and local level known as "Sports Performance Enhancement," the scientific management of human energy systems through the disciplines of performance fitness and nutrition, body composition normalization, physiological testing, rehabilitation, and motivation. The mission statement is to optimize the athlete/individual's performance in a game or at work.

To date I have assisted roughly 3,000 professional, college and high school athletes, as well as professional sports teams and corporations, in discovering the art of maximum human performance. As an adjunct assistant professor/clinical instructor at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, I clinically supervised sports medicine students doing their internship/clinical rotation and field experience in performance enhancement.

As Ochsner Clinic Foundation's performance enhancement expert, I work full time with the many skilled and talented Ochsner physicians and staff members to assist athletes from all types of sports as well as everyday people in our Comprehensive Weight Management Program to achieve their personal performance objectives. Many of these techniques are outlined in my current book, Maximum Energy for Life, and another book scheduled for release at the end of the year, The Fat-Burning Bible -- 28 Days to a Leaner Healthier Body.

This fall, many of our young athletes will play school sports -- especially contact football. This performance enhancement model dovetails very neatly into the objectives of scholastic sports: to get the young athletes into peak physical condition and to minimize as much as possible the likelihood of injuries.

Injuries are, of course, an occupational hazard in any sport, although football, soccer and basketball are more prone to serious injuries than some other sports. We can't totally prevent injuries. What we can do, however, is properly assess and specifically condition young athletes to give them a performance enhancement strategy uniquely tailored to the rigors of their sport and the position they play on a team.

One of the physicians with whom I work closely is Dr. Deryk Jones, an orthopedic surgeon who recently joined the Ochsner staff as section head of Sports Medicine as part of the Ochsner Muscle, Bone and Joint Center.

Jones urges parents of high school athletes to have their kids thoroughly checked over to ascertain their physical condition for the sport in which they expect to participate. Over the years, he has treated injuries in many sports but the one with the highest incidence of injury is football. For schools in the New Orleans area, football season begins later this month when the new academic year opens. Most of the high school football players already have been working out for several months, with the objective of being in peak condition when the interscholastic competition begins.

Although I have addressed this issue in the past, it bears repeating. Parents, take a pro-active role in monitoring the safety and well-being of your youngsters. Have them medically screened before participating in a sport. Don't push them beyond their physical limits or encourage them to play while hurt. Even minor injuries warrant close examination to ensure that they don't develop into larger ones. Monitor closely what your children eat and drink and which supplements, if any, they are taking. We can make this coming season as injury-free as possible if we all do our part.

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