Navigating The Athletic Health Care System is Focus of Sixth Youth Sports Safety Summit

Monday, March 2, 2015

DALLAS, March 2, 2015 – In a continued effort to keep young athletes safe, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and Youth Sports Safety Alliance hosted today the sixth annual Youth Sports Safety Summit in Dallas, Texas. This year’s forum built on the success of prior summits and addressed the day-long theme of Navigating the Athletic Health Care System, focusing on athletic play in community/league sports as well as school-based athletics. James Andrews, MD, internationally acclaimed orthopedic surgeon, provided the keynote address on creating lifetime athletes to an audience of parent advocates, school administrators, educators, health care professionals and others.

The NATA-founded Youth Sports Safety Alliance comprises more than 200 organizations committed to preventing catastrophic, chronic and acute injury and illness in youth athletes.More than 7 million high school athletes participate in youth sports today; more than 46.5 million participate in team sports annually with more than 1.35 million seen in an emergency room for sports-related injuries.

“We have seen progress across the youth sports safety landscape in the past six years with increased legislation, education and research,” says NATA Vice President MaryBeth Horodyski, EdD, ATC, FNATA, who welcomed the group this morning. “This summit repeatedly addresses the latest thinking in trends, guidelines, general research and injury surveillance to ensure best practices and protocols are in place for young athletes today. No matter where young athletes play, their health care needs should be a priority.”

Summit topics ranged from new guidelines to address mental health considerations for secondary school athletes to parenting of young athletes; equipment safety; cardiac arrest protocols; diet and energy recommendations; affordability of medical care in high schools; what research tells us about age and gender in sports; and how research can help shape policy, among other insights. Three panel discussions addressed the athletic health care system from the community, secondary school and urgent care perspectives.

In his presentation, Andrews addressed his concerns about the specialization in youth sports and athletes who play the same sport and often the same position year round. He emphasized the importance of promoting athletic activity while preventing and managing injury. Central to this is the culture of winning and the poor decisions that parents and athletes may make as a result. Andrews stressed that without careful planning and preparation, dreams of college level participation, scholarships and potentially professional play may be unrealized when injury and or overuse prematurely ends an athletic career.

NATA released an inter-association consensus statement, “Recommendations for Developing a Plan to Recognize and Refer Student Athletes with Psychological Concerns at the Secondary School Level.” The recommendations are published online today in the March Journal of Athletic Training, NATA’s scientific publication.
The association also unveiled its inaugural Youth Sports Safety Ambassador Award, presented to an individual and/or entity that has made a significant contribution to advancing athlete safety based on two criteria: providing exemplary youth sports safety protocols and care that set a precedent and/or model that others can follow; or, by advancing youth sports safety in one of the following areas: provision of appropriate medical care, research, policy change and/or resource allocation.
Recipients include: The NFL Foundation for its leadership in initiatives such as: USA Football’s Heads Up Football – funded in part by the NFL Foundation – that emphasizes safer and smarter ways to play and teach youth football, and the NFL Foundation Athletic Trainer Program, which provided matching grants to NFL clubs to fund athletic trainers in underserved middle schools, high schools and youth leagues nationwide; Dawn Comstock, PhD, associate professor, Colorado School of Public Health, Pediatric Injury Prevention, Education, and Research Program, as one of the country’s leading high school injury surveillance published researchers whose studies have influenced policy change and best practices; and Dallas (Texas) Independent School District for its hiring of one or more full-time athletic trainers for all high schools in the district, reinforcing its commitment to athlete safety.
“Today’s program has provided new roadmaps for all of us to consider when navigating the athletic health care system,” said Horodyski. “Putting several of these protocols in place ensures the continued safety of our young athletes. We hope everyone who attended today will leave with a renewed commitment to safety and with best practices to ensure the health and welfare of the student athlete.”
Nationally Acclaimed Speakers Address Nutrition, Equipment, New Research and Ongoing Considerations of the Athletic Health Care System
The summit, held at the DFW Marriott North in Dallas, included a full agenda of presentations and discussions featuring several nationally prominent youth sports safety medical experts and advocates. Horodyski opened the program and was followed by Yolanda Bruce Brooks, PsyD, The Sports Life Transitions Institute, who addressed the pressures of youth sports participation on young athletes; Mike Oliver, executive director, National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), addressed equipment safety and managing expectations. He was part of a “Myths and Controversies” section of the program that included Benjamin D. Levine, MD, FACC, FACSM, representing the American Heart Association who talked about cardiac arrest and if EKGs are the answer; Jill Castle, MSN, RDN, CDN, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who commented on diet and energy and where athletes go wrong; and parent Louisa Meyer who discussed the affordability of medical care in high schools and what she was able to help spearhead in the Dallas Independent School District.
Tim Neal, MS, ATC, task force chair of the new inter-association consensus statement on mental health and the secondary school athlete provided recommendation highlights. Dawn Comstock, PhD, Colorado School of Public Health, presented findings on return to play times by gender and age groups in select high school and college sports; and also addressed how current research has helped to change policy in an effort to improve student athlete safety protocols.
Additional speaker information or interviews are available upon request. For more information please visit:     
About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 39,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit
About the Youth Sports Safety Alliance:
Since 2010, the Youth Sports Safety Alliance has worked to raise awareness, advance legislation and improve medical care for young athletes across the country. High school athletes suffer 2 million injuries; 200,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations every year. The alliance is committed to reducing those numbers and improving the health and safety of young athletes. The YSSA was founded by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and comprises more than 200 member organizations. Visit: