Who's Taking Care of Your Kids?

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association Initiative Recommends Appropriate Medical Care for Adolescent Athletes

DALLAS (March 28, 2003) – With sports-related injuries on the rise at secondary schools around the nation, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) is spearheading a task force that has established recommendations for the prevention, assessment, care and appropriate management of athletic-related injury and illness to middle and high school athletes. NATA Task Force Chair Jon Almquist, ATC, explains the importance of the effort: “There seems to be a huge discrepancy among high school athletic programs in the quality of care provided student athletes.” Almquist coordinates the athletic training program for Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools. “Schools provide an opportunity for students to participate in sports, which is excellent because it promotes fitness and mental well-being. Injuries are an inherent risk with participation in sports, however. The task force felt that if we provide an opportunity to play, there’s also an opportunity to get hurt, so it’s important to provide proper medical care.” Almquist said the consensus statement, developed by the health care and public education experts task force, reflects what is considered appropriate health care for athletes, not necessarily minimum or maximum requirements. The members recognize that appropriate medical care of the secondary school-aged athlete means that more than basic emergency care during sports participation must be provided in order to ensure the safety of the athlete. It encompasses the provision of many other health care services. “When PTAs and high school administrators begin looking at budgets for next year, they need to think about who’s taking care of their kids,” according to Almquist. “To have the appropriate medical coverage available for next year, high schools need to assess their current state of affairs and develop a plan to implement items considered appropriate by the consensus statement. NATA members believe that the most cost-effective and medically ideal way to obtain that care is with a certified athletic trainer who can do all those things. You wouldn’t leave your child at the pool without a lifeguard, so why would you let your child participate in high school sports without a certified athletic trainer available?” The athletic health care team, according to the consensus statement, may be comprised of appropriate health care professionals, including team physicians, consulting physicians, certified athletic trainers, emergency medical services personnel, physical therapists, school nurses, dentists, and other allied health care professionals, in consultation with administrators, coaches, parents and participants. The team should have a designated athletic health care provider who is educated and qualified to handle a wide spectrum of tasks, including: determining the individual’s readiness to participate; establishing protocols regarding environmental and emergency conditions; providing for on-site recognition, evaluation and immediate treatment of injury and illness with appropriate referrals; and advising on the selection, fit, function and maintenance of athletic equipment. Like ATCs, coaches should be trained in first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) use. Additionally, coaches should be educated in the best-case utilization of athletic trainers, injury prevention and modification of training in response to injury and illness. The provision of appropriate medical care should be based on local needs and resources, with consideration of available personnel, state and local statutes, risk and type of activity. In addition to certified athletic trainers (ATC), the NATA Appropriate Medical Care for Secondary School-Age Athletes Task Force comprises numerous health care and public education organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and National Federation of State High School Associations. Almquist joins the more than 30,000 athletic trainers in the United States in celebration of National Athletic Training Month in March. This year’s theme of Injury Assessment: The First Step in Treatment & Recovery has been carried out nationally, as well as in individual communities, where ATCs are hosting special events and educational activities to boost public awareness about the athletic training profession. About NATA: Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are medical professionals who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports the more than 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. People interested in learning more about the athletic training profession are encouraged to visit NATA’s Web site at www.nata.org. For additional information, refer to: http://www.nata.org/downloads/documents/Consensus%20Statement_Final%20Ve... http://www.nata.org/publications/press_releases/suggestedsafetyitems.htm

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