Appropriate medical Care for High School-Age Athletes Can Reduce Number of Serious Injuries

Contact: Robin Waxenberg - (212) 489-8006 Ellen Satlof - (214) 637-6282, ext. 159

National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Offers Health Care Tips to Implement

DALLAS, March 30 – It’s an undeniable fact: athletic kids are susceptible to injuries. Every year, more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and under receive medical treatment for sport-related injuries including falls, collisions, concussions, heat illness, and overexertion, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than 775,000 are treated in emergency rooms, reports the American College of Sports Medicine. What can be done to reduce the incidence of such accidents and ensure that injured children receive the best possible medical attention? “Appropriate immediate care given to youth athletes can reduce the severity of their injuries,” said Jon Almquist, ATC. “The implementation of a comprehensive athletic health care program including injury prevention, education, immediate evaluation and treatment, and rehabilitation components can reduce the risk of time-loss injuries.” Almquist believes the need to implement these strategies is imperative because participation in sports among boys and girls has increased more than 37 percent in the past 20 years, according to the National Federation of High Schools. Almquist is the athletic training program specialist for the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, the 12th largest school district in the country, and chair of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s (NATA) Secondary School Athletic Trainers Committee. He is among the 30,000 members of NATA who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. Throughout March, NATA is celebrating National Athletic Training Month with the theme, “Be Active – Stay Healthy.” NATA also supports the American Public Health Association’s National Public Health Week (April 3 – 9) and its theme of “Designing Healthy Communities, Raising Healthy Kids.” As chair of an inter-association task force that created a consensus statement on “Appropriate Medicare Care for Secondary School-Age Athletes,” Almquist recommends that a health care team be assembled at schools and facilities where young athletes compete. “This team should be comprised of an on-site certified athletic trainer in consultation with team physicians, family physicians, school nurses, emergency medical services personnel, dentists and other allied health care professionals who work closely with the coaching staff,” he said. The task force included representatives from numerous organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and National Federation of State High School Associations. The consensus statement offers the following tips for the health care team, schools and youth facilities to implement:

  • Develop a comprehensive athletic care program
  • Determine an athlete’s readiness to participate
  • Promote safe facilities
  • Maintain appropriate equipment
  • Develop an emergency action plan
  • Develop policy on environmental conditions
  • Provide on-site medical care
  • Facilitate rehabilitation and reconditioning in treatment plans
  • Provide for psychosocial consultation and referral
  • Provide scientifically sound nutritional information
  • Develop injury and illness prevention strategies

In the Fairfax County, Va., school district, Almquist oversees 25 high school athletic training programs, which care for 25,000 student athletes each year. “Our district has done injury surveillance of all school sports for almost ten years. When compared to prior national research on high school injuries, our data shows lower incidence and severity rates,” he said. Almquist urges parents to make sure the schools and youth facilities their children attend employ coaches and health care staff properly trained in sports safety. “Preparation, education and comprehensive care are critical to prevent injuries or to treat them immediately and effectively should they occur,” he says. About the NATA: Certified athletic trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports the 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax). Tips to reduce serious high school athlete injuries

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