Making High School Sports Safer
In recent news stories relating to high school sports, we have seen everything from minor injuries, to concussions, to even death at practices, but how can we reduce the risk to our teens? Two words: athletic trainers.
Certified athletic trainers develop and maintain plans to help keep students, equipment and facilities as safe as possible in all situations.
What Are Athletic Trainers?
According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, athletic trainers are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who render service or treatment, under the direction of or in collaboration with a physician, in accordance with their education, training and the state's statutes, rules and regulations.
As a part of the healthcare team and the school's athletic team, services provided by athletic trainers include:
- Pre-participation physical examinations
- Promotion safe and appropriate practice and competition facilities
- Development of injury and illness prevention strategies, including protocols for environmental conditions
- Facilitating injury intervention. psycho-social consultation and nutritional counseling/education
- Educating athletes and parents on the potential benefits and risks in sports as well as their responsibilities
Why Should Schools Have Athletic Trainers?
The vast majority – 70 percent – of injuries occur in practice, and close to 60 percent of sports-related cardiac deaths involve schools without athletic trainers onsite, so having an athletic trainer available full-time is essential.
Franciscan Health offers a comprehensive athletic development and sports performance training environment. Every participant receives close supervision as our coaches direct them through athletic training sessions, and special attention is always paid to proper technique and safety.
Franciscan Health athletic trainers also educate coaches and players on the correct way to stretch and warm-up, which helps prevent injuries.
"Parents should have peace of mind that these schools take the health and well-being of the student-athlete seriously enough to invest in a full-time athletic trainer," said Craig Voll, PhD, PT, Sports Medicine manager with Franciscan Health in Western Indiana. "From after school until the last practice and game, and on weekends, our athletic trainers are at the school every day."
Our athletic trainers also conduct screenings over the summer with incoming freshman athletes to help protect them and reduce their risk of injury.
Helping Players Return To Play Safely
Franciscan's return-to-play programs set us apart from other athletic training centers. We provide athletes, who may still be in physical therapy or recovering from an injury, a healthy transition back to the field of play. Our experienced sports medicine staff works closely with our sports performance coaches to integrate the rehabilitating athlete into the normal training process and back onto the field of play in a timely and safe fashion with an emphasis on maintaining fitness to reduce potential for repeat injury.
Our individual, hands-on approach will guide you back to the field of play with appropriate strength, speed, power and fitness conditioning training methods. “Because our athletic trainers are with athletes every day, they’re constantly identifying weaknesses athletes have,” Voll said. “Whether it’s to return-to-play or to prevent injuries, they can provide athletes the sport-specific exercises they need.”
More Than Just Medical Care
As important as physical health, athletic trainers provide a needed ear to support students' emotional health as well.
"Student-athletes tend to confide in trainers – they spend a lot of time together," Voll said. "Our athletic trainers can help identify signs that someone may be struggling with an emotional issue and can make referrals for the help someone needs."