National Athletic Trainers’ Association to Help Increase Medical Services in Underserved High Schools Nationwide
WASHINGTON, DC, May 29, 2014 –The National Athletic Trainers’ Association, in collaboration with the Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society, will support a national initiative to place athletic trainers (ATs) in underserved high schools in NFL markets during the 2014 football season. The National Football League Foundation and NFL teams will provide $1 million, with the NATA adding another $125,000, to improve the health and welfare of those student athletes. The announcement was made during the White House Healthy Kids and Concussion Summit in Washington, DC, this morning.
“Today is a landmark day for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association,” said NATA President Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES. “We are pleased with the NFL Foundation and NFL Clubs’ contribution and are excited to move forward in collaboration with the Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society to implement this program, which will make a significant impact on thousands of young athletes. NATA is committed to educating and empowering parents and others on improved youth sports safety measures.”
Currently only 55 percent of high school student athletes have access to a full-time athletic trainer. This initiative aims to reach the other 45 percent of players by funding ATs to provide health care during games and/or practices, with the ultimate goal of keeping these young athletes in the game, rather than on the sidelines dealing with chronic, catastrophic or fatal conditions. These conditions can be largely prevented, managed and treated if the right protocols are in place, and if properly trained medical personnel – including athletic trainers – are available to provide education and prevention strategies and to offer immediate care, should an injury occur.
NATA has a longstanding commitment to youth sports safety. In March, the association hosted the 5th Youth Sports Safety Summit in Washington, DC. The event was supported by the Youth Sports Safety Alliance – comprising more than 150 sport and health organizations committed to continued education, research and legislation. The association also introduced the Secondary School Student Athletes’ Bill of Rights, a bipartisan bill currently in the House and Senate, and launched the Safe Sports School Award to recognize high schools that have effective sports safety protocols in place.
What is an Athletic Trainer?
ATs specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They differ from personal trainers – or trainers – who focus solely on fitness and conditioning and have very different academic and certification requirements. ATs provide immediate care for acute injuries and help reduce the onset of chronic or potentially catastrophic injuries.
NATA encourages parents to ask schools important questions pertaining to high school student athlete safety including:
- Who comprises the school’s sports medicine team? Find out who will provide care to your child in case of an injury, and ask to review his/her credentials.
- Does the school/league have an emergency action plan?Ensure your athlete’s team has a venue-specific, written emergency action plan, reviewed regularly by the athletic trainer or local Emergency Medical Service.
- Is the equipment in working order? Make sure all equipment (such as basketball flooring, gymnastics apparatus and field turf) is safe and in working order. This also includes emergency medical equipment like AEDs (which should be checked once per month; batteries and pads need consistent monitoring and replacing).
- Are locker rooms, gyms and shower surfaces cleaned on a regular basis? With the increased incidence of MRSA and related bacterial, viral and fungal skin infections reported in recent years, it is critical to keep these surfaces routinely cleaned and checked for germs.
- Does the school have an AED and someone who knows how to use it? Ensure that the medical expert and other personnel know where AEDs are located, how to use them and that equipment is placed on the sidelines during both practice and games.
- Does the school qualify for a Safe Sports School Award (if not, why not)? Review the criteria for the NATA’s Safe Sports School award, which recognizes secondary schools around the country that provide safe environments for student athletes.
Preparing kids for sports participation:
- Get a pre-participation exam: All athletes should have a pre-participation exam to determine their readiness to play and to uncover any condition that may limit participation.
- Physical and mental preparation is paramount: Parents, with input from coaches and athletic trainers, should determine whether their children are physically and psychologically ready for the sport/activity level they’re playing.
- Share an athlete’s medical history: Parents should complete an emergency medical authorization form, providing parent contact information and permission for the student athlete’s emergency medical care.
Individual athlete concerns and considerations for the sports medicine team:
- Beat the heat: Acclimatize athletes to warm weather activities over a 14-day period. The goal is to increase exercise heat tolerance and enhance the ability to exercise safely and effectively in warm and hot conditions.
- Use your head: Be certain the student athlete and medical team are well educated on concussion prevention and management and that the athlete is encouraged to speak up if hit in the head and suffering from any symptoms associated with concussion.
- Be smart about sickle cell trait: All newborns are tested at birth for this inherited condition, and those results should be shared during a pre-participation exam. Red blood cells can sickle during intense exertion, blocking blood vessels and posing a grave risk for athletes with the sickle cell trait.
- Build in recovery time: Allow time for the body to rest and rejuvenate between seasons.
- Pay attention to sport specific injury prevention: Any repetitive motion can lead to overuse injury.
The benefits of participation in sport far outweigh the risk. With appropriate health care personnel present at all practices and games, the risk is even further reduced, allowing young athletes to safely engage in healthy competition while reaping the many advantages and character-building experiences that come from organized athletics.
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 immediate 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.