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NBA Knee Injury Could Happen to Student Athletes, Parents

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant suffered a tibial plateau fracture last week. Doctors say it could happen to anyone.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) What looked like a typical basketball play last Tuesday between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers threw a wrench in Kobe Bryant's 17th season in the NBA.

"It's very uncommon for that injury to happen," Dr. Barbara Semakula said.

Dr. Semakula is the director of sports rehab at the University of Kansas Hospital. She says risk factors for this kind of injury include stress fractures, and it can happen to athletes at any level.

"When you're jumping and you suddenly have some knee pain, some vague knee pain, you might be at risk for a stress fracture," Dr. Semakula said. "What happens when you have a stress fracture in the tibia, you can go on to having a fracture similar to Kobe Bryant if you land on that knee wrong when you're jumping."

Cy Musser's spent his life around the game of basketball -- from playing at Missouri Western to now coaching at Central High School. He makes sure his team takes steps toward preventing injuries, but sometimes freak things happen.

"We try to do a good job in the off-season of really training them and preparing them," Musser said. "But you know those guys, Kobe Bryant, they have the best trainers in the world and they're getting hurt. So we do know that it can happen to us."

But the St. Joseph School District is lending a hand to coaches so injuries aren't going undiagnosed.

"The district this year got each school a trainer so anytime someone's having some problems we're able to send them to the trainer, and they're able to look and see if it's muscles or ligaments, what the problem is and go from there."

But the injury risk isn't just high in athletes. Adults also have to be cautious during the winter months.

"Especially in cold weather, if you suddenly slip down the stairs and you land funny on your knee, you are at risk also for a tibial fracture from the demineralization and poor bone health," Dr. Semakula said.

So whether you're an NBA superstar, or just shoveling your sidewalk, don't overdo it as your knee pain worsens.

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