NATA, CDC Partner on Interactive Concussion Training

February 28, 2022 by Beth Sitzler

Concussion is and should always be front-page news for athletic trainers. Clinical athletic trainers are on the front lines of concussion identification and management and regularly find themselves coordinating with concussion management teams for athletes. In the ongoing effort to better understand and prevent concussions, researchers working in athletic training are positively influencing protocols and policy, increasing athlete safety and improving recovery outcomes. NATA strives to support and empower members through top-notch professional development opportunities.

One of the ways NATA supports athletic trainers is by partnering with people and organizations at the top of the field to create and provide resources for athletic trainers. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control wanted to develop a concussion training for athletic trainers, they turned to NATA. We are proud to announce that NATA has teamed up with the CDC to produce a free, interactive training for athletic trainers working in the field in this first-of-its-kind partnership. 

HEADS UP to Athletic Trainers was designed and produced in collaboration with NATA-affiliated professionals to promote athletic trainers’ role in the management and identification of concussion. Based on foundational principles from NATA’s position statement on the management of sports concussion and CDC’s best practice guidelines, the online program is an excellent refresher for experienced clinicians and provides critical background for those new to the field. The solution-oriented interactive training also offers 2 CEUs to participants.

The CDC reached out to NATA directly, working with NATA-affiliated professionals throughout the development and production of the training, including Steven Broglio, PhD, ATC, from the University of Michigan and Johna Register-Mihalik, PhD, LAT, ATC, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Further input and feedback to inform the training was provided by Stanley Herring, MD; Jennifer Rheeling, MS, ATC; Tricia Kasamatsu, PhD, ATC; Tamerah Hunt, PhD, ATC, FACSM; Julianne Schmidt, PhD, ATC; and Tracey Covassin, PhD, ATC, FNATA.

“Be creative and be prepared for things to go awry. They always do,” said Register-Mihalik when speaking about concussion prevention and response plans. “Making plans ahead of time is essential for athletic trainers.”

Register-Mihalik was joined onscreen for interviews from the field by Hunt from Georgia Southern University, and Natalie Shuman, LAT, ATC. Through these video interviews and throughout the training, the course looks at real-world applications, examples and solutions to common concussion prevention and management issues identified by working athletic trainers. It provides evidence-based information and best practices on topics including collaborating with a concussion management team; engaging stakeholders in concussion prevention, response and care; the use and limits of standardized screening instruments; developing a culture of concussion safety; turning difficult conversations into opportunities for education, and more.

“I want athletic trainers to know that when they’re diagnosing concussions, every single one is going to be different,” Shuman said. “While concussions have similar characteristics, we need to understand that they are all going to be different and that we are always learning more as we work. Education is becoming a bigger piece of what we do, and that research is changing and improving our concussion outcomes.”

Hunt reminds participants that they “have more knowledge than most other people when it comes to concussion management, evaluation, treatment and engagement.”

“You know what you’re talking about and can articulate that honestly and transparently to all stakeholders,” she said. “You just need to trust your gut, your education, and your knowledge.”

NATA is so proud to have played an essential part in creating this important resource in refreshing and renewing that education and knowledge for members. HEADS UP to Athletic Trainers is available for free on CDC TRAIN.