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Joe Paterno injured on field; should coaches play it safe too?

August 08, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
  • Penn State coach Joe Paterno reportedly suffered injuries to his right shoulder and hip when a player ran into him during practice Sunday.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno reportedly suffered injuries to his right… (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images )

Poor Joe Paterno. Turns out coaches get hurt on the field too. The 84-year-old Penn State coach reportedly suffered injuries to his right arm and hip when one of his players blindsided him Sunday during a practice drill.

Usually athletes, not coaches, are the ones who sustain physical injury on the court or playing field. But Paterno has suffered a number of injuries: He broke his leg in a sideline collision in 2006 and hurt his hip in 2008 while demonstrating a particular technique for his players, and had to have surgery after the season.

But, to be fair, it probably doesn't help that members of the 80-plus set are prone to injury for other reasons. Nearly three quarters of of hip, spine and distal forearm fractures occur among patients 65 and older, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. 

And it gets worse as you get older. In 2009, the rate of fall injuries for adults 85 and older was almost four times that for adults 65 to 74, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most common way the elderly seem to get injured is by falling. (Incidentally, it appears unclear whether Paterno was hurt by the collision with the player or impact with the ground.)

Part of the problem is that, as people get older, their bone density diminishes, making them more susceptible to breakage, according to the foundation. (So does sense of balance, Jeannine Stein points out in a post -- which, of course, makes falling more likely.)

None of this seems to be holding Paterno back; school officials say he could be released in a day or so. The team had its first practice in full pads Monday; when he gets back on the field, the hands-on coach might want to wear some too.

Follow me on Twitter @LAT_aminakhan.

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