When most high school football players were children, Saturday mornings meant cartoons, pajamas, and breakfast cereal.
With football season underway, high school football players can expect something else on Saturday mornings — aches, pain, and sometimes injuries.
For more than ten years, Dr. Steven Hardage has opened his clinic at the Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Center in Claremore on Saturday mornings to see patients who may have been injured playing a football game the previous evening.
“I was doing the Saturday morning (sports injury) clinics when I was in training in Tulsa, and I’ve been doing it here in Claremore since the fall of 2004, so I’ve been doing it here for about 13 years — probably close to 15 years, total,” Dr. Hardage said. “During football season, I’ll open up (the clinic) at 8 a.m. Saturdays to see injuries from Friday night (football) games the night before — just help kids to get in, and get taken care of sooner, so they can get headed down the road to recovery even quicker.”
“Traditionally, someone injured in a Friday night game, without going to the emergency room, would have to wait days to be seen — most clinics are closed on the weekends, and if they’d call Monday, they might not even get seen until Wednesday,” he said. “What I do is just leave my schedule open on Saturdays — I have no patients scheduled, so anyone can just walk in.”
Dr. Hardage joined Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Center in 2004. After receiving his medical degree from The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Dr. Hardage went on to study family practice medicine at The University of Oklahoma – Tulsa College of Medicine, eventually becoming family practice Chief Resident.
Now in it’s third week this season, Dr. Hardage said his Saturday morning sports injury clinic continues throughout the fall football season and until the last local football team has finished with the playoffs.
As to patients he sees the morning after a football game, Dr. Hardage said there’s no such thing as a “typical” injury.
“We see knee injuries, shoulder injuries, broken bones, concussions — that’s really a big one right now, I do concussion evaluations, but certainly lots of knee and shoulder injuries,” he said. “Having done this as long as I have, I’ve seen a lot (of injuries) -- really, the treatment for them is basically the same, although like I said, we’ve become more aware of the dangers of concussion, so as a whole, we’re more aggressive our concussion protocols.”
Himself a former high school athlete, Dr. Hardage said his personal experience allows him personal perspective on being the recipient of a sports injury.
“I understand, as a former high school athlete myself, the stress (on the students) from being injured, from wanting to recover, from wanting to get back into the game,” he said. “I had injuries and multiple surgeries when I was playing (in high school) myself, so I can understand what it’s like (for the athletes).”
Although football season tends to see an incline in high school sports injuries in boys, girls are just as inclined to injure themselves playing sports, Dr. Hardage said.
“There are just as many female athletes getting injured as male — males are just more noticeable during football season,” he said. “With the girls, you’ve got cheerleading, basketball, soccer — sports-related injuries don’t discriminate between males and females.”
When he’s not seeing patients at Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Center, Dr. Hardage serves as team physician for Rogers State University, Northeastern State University, Claremore High School, and other area high schools, and he said he intends to keep his Saturday sports injury clinic going throughout the (football) season.
“We try very hard to get athletes in the same day or the next day — it’s what we do, it’s what we love,” he said. “We see all kinds of injuries throughout the year, but especially right now, we do what we can to help take care of the high school kids as soon as possible, so they be treated and well again without having to wait, or suffer, any longer than they have to.”
Dr. Steven Hardage’s Saturday sports injury clinic is in the Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Center at 1110 W. Will Rogers Boulevard in Claremore. For more information, call 918-341-0600 or visit www.eooc.com.
Dr. Hardage is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Specialists specialize in the care of the ankles, feet, knees, shoulders, backs, elbows, hips, necks, spines, wrists, joint replacement and revision, and sports medicine.