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First Person

New game plan

To keep young athletes competing, Dr. Lyle Micheli created The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, opening in April in Waltham.

“We’re looking for evidence-based sports injury prevention. Our focus is not performance enhancement,” says Dr. Lyle Micheli.

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“We’re looking for evidence-based sports injury prevention. Our focus is not performance enhancement,” says Dr. Lyle Micheli.

The center has been a culmination of 20 years of trying to approach sports injuries in a different way. [My colleagues at Boston Children’s Hospital and I] see 450 TO 500 KIDS A WEEK WITH SPORTS INJURIES, CONCUSSIONS, ACL TEARS, all that kind of stuff. Over the years, I’ve thought that we’ve got to be able to do something to intervene early and prevent these injuries.

I suppose it’s my own background that makes me interested in kids and sports. MY FAMILY MEMBERS WERE COAL MINERS from Illinois, and sports was an avenue. It probably kept me out of trouble growing up. I played all through high school, and SPORTS REALLY HELPED ME IN COLLEGE. Probably the only things that were familiar to me at Harvard were the sports.

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A lot of people talk about what kids should do, but you never see any results on intervention. It’s all anecdotal. We’re looking for EVIDENCE-BASED SPORTS INJURY PREVENTION. Our focus is not performance enhancement. We had a meeting the other night and one researcher said we’re trying to do something like the FRAMINGHAM HEART STUDY for kids, trying to get a bunch of kids, assess them, and then follow them to see what the result of our intervention is.

I hope the center will turn out a lot of good papers. I hope that there will be 10 or 12 centers like this across the country in the big cities. I HOPE IT’S IMITATED. We’re not trying to build up a center where we’ve got the answers and nobody else has them. And we’ll be happy if 10 years from now we’ve CUT THE RATE OF SPORTS INJURY IN YOUNG ATHLETES IN HALF in a lot of the major sports in this country. That’s a good goal.  — As told to Shira Springer

Interview has been edited and condensed.

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