A week from now, athletic trainers from across the country will gather in Indianapolis for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s 65th annual Clinical Symposia which runs June 25-28.
Featured topics during the convention will include emergency planning, youth sport safety protocols, concussions, complex injuries of the central nervous system, and neuromuscular and ACL injury prevention and treatment.
For the media, the NATA will host a press conference to release an update of its 2002 position statement on heat illness.
Meanwhile, with the school year just ended, the NATA is appealing to parents to inquire now so school districts have sufficient time to provide the right answers regarding their safety strategies by the time the fall sports season begins.
Among the questions parents should be asking:
Who comprises the school’s sports medicine team? A team physician just at varsity football game is insufficient. Other varsity sports, lower level football games and full speed/contact practices take place daily. A licensed athletic trainer should be present for all practices and games.
Does your school have an emergency action plan that has been implemented and practiced? If not, why not?
Are all facilities and equipment in working order? Make sure all equipment including playing surfaces, goals, backboards, and fences are safe and in working order.
Are locker rooms, gyms and shower surfaces cleaned on a regular basis? If not, the likelihood of infections, such as MRSA, increases.
Does your school have AEDs and staff members who know how to use them? All personnel should know where the AEDs are located — including on sidelines — and how to use them.
To further ensure the safety of student-athletes, the NATA encourages parents to take the following steps themselves:
Get an annual preparticipation exam for your child: In Indiana and Illinois, at the high school level, an annual physical is mandatory.
Ensure the physical and mental preparation of your child: Parents, with input from coaches and athletic trainers, should determine whether their children are physically and psychologically ready to play.
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.
Finally, the NATA urges administrators, coaches, and sports medics to use the following safe sport strategies:
Beat the heat: Acclimatize athletes to warm weather activities over a 14-day period.
Use your head: Be certain all coaching staff and student athletes are well educated on concussion prevention and management.
Know about sickle cell trait: All newborns are tested for this inherited condition and those results should be shared during a preparticipation exam so coaches, athletic trainers and physicians are informed.
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.
According to the NATA, “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.”