Research Sheds Light on Need for Increased Physical and Mental Health Practices

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Indianapolis, June 26, 2014 – During its 65th Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in Indianapolis today, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association advance-released three papers online to appear in its July-AugustJournal of Athletic Training, all to reinforce the vital need for student athlete sports safety protocols and continued research. On the heels of the fifth Youth Sports Safety Summit in Washington, DC, convened by NATA and supported by the Youth Sports Safety Alliance comprising more than 150 organizations, each paper provides new insights and guidelines to ensure best practices are in place for appropriate care. The Journal of Athletic Training is NATA’s scientific publication. Included are:
“Safeguarding Student Athlete Health and Welfare: A Conference Proceedings Summary”
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga hosted a national conference in April 2014 to discuss administrative practices that ensure the effectiveness of sports medicine programs at all levels of competition. Following formal presentations by leaders in the sports medicine and youth sports community, an expert panel was charged with identifying action steps to advance student athlete health and welfare.
 The panel concluded that:
·         Best practice documents are critical for student athlete safety. The panel recommended written emergency action plans; background screenings of all personnel who coach, supervise or provide care to athletes; management and prevention plans for concussions and overuse injuries; and setting-specific health and safety checklists.
·         Health and safety criteria considered desirable in one setting may be deemed essential in another (e.g. few community-based youth programs have the level of administrative support available to high school and college programs).
·         A team physician or program medical director should be designated, and access to athletic training services is recommended for youth sports but absolutely essential for high school and college programs.
·         The health and safety of athletes in every age group and setting should be protected by standards such as those defined by the Secondary School Athletes’ Bill of Rights.
·         The panel overwhelmingly recommended that “the physician, athletic trainer and other appointed members of the sports medicine staff must have full authority for decisions regarding the athlete’s health and welfare” and that“athletic trainers and other members of a sports medicine team report to the team physicians to minimize the potential of actual or perceived  conflicts of interest,” said Craig Denegar, PhD, PT, ATC, FNATA, editor-in-chief, Journal of Athletic Training, and conference participant who coauthored the executive summary. “Putting appropriate chains of command in place and reinforcing these best practice recommendations ensures that leagues and teams at every level of school play will have the right protocols with which to shape their sports safety programs.”
Middle School Injuries: A 20-Year (1988-2008) Multi-sport Evaluation
Recognizing that data on the incidence of injury in middle school sports has been limited to date, study authors researched overall practice and game injury rate patterns in 29 middle school sports at one school in Hawaii. More than 8,000 boys and nearly 6,000 girls participated in the study in 14 and 15 middle school sports, respectively. Key points include:
·         Injuries to middle school athletes were less frequent and less severe than those reported to secondary school and collegiate athletes.
·         Injuries were more often sustained in practices than games.
·         In sex-matched sports, girls had a higher injury rate than boys. Football had the highest overall injury rate.
·         Nineteen percent of middle school athletes sustain tendonitis injuries.
“Continued research and improved conditioning programs may be needed to address the high rate of tendinitis injuries in school sports, said Glenn Beachy, MS, ATC, lead researcher and head athletic trainer at Punahou School in Honolulu, where the study was conducted. “This study provides a definitive and long-term platform from which to evaluate rate of injury among these middle school students. Ensuring their safety at this age is critical to reduce acute or chronic conditions as these athletes consider high school and potentially college sport participation.”
Postinjury Anxiety and Social Support Among Collegiate Athletes: A Comparison Between Orthopaedic Injuries and Concussions
When an athlete is injured, the primary focus of the sports medicine team is to treat the physical effects of the injury. However, many athletes experience negative psychological responses, including anxiety, regarding their injury. Researchers compared the anxiety and social support of athletes with concussions and a matched group of athletes with orthopaedic injuries. A total of 525 injuries among athletes from the University of Iowa and Michigan State University were observed. Of these, 63 concussion injuries were matched with 63 orthopaedic injuries for the athlete’s sex, sport and time loss due to injury. Study findings included:
·         Athletes with concussions or orthopaedic injuries showed similar levels of state and anxiety.
·         Sources of support were similar for athletes with both types of injuries.
·         Athletes with orthopaedic injuries reported more and greater satisfaction with social support from all sources versus those with concussions.
“These differences may reflect the nature of concussive injuries suggesting that additional research is needed to understand the relationship of social support satisfaction and post-injury anxiety type by injury,” said Tracey Covassin, PhD, ATC, lead author of the study from Michigan State University. “We consider this a timely study from which t
Additional NATA consensus statement resources: 

Recognition and referral of student athletes with psychological concerns at the collegiate level
Best practices for sports medicine management for secondary schools and college
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.