News – Certified Athletic Trainers Key to Diagnosing and Treatment of Concussions

21 Aug

Idaho – For the past few years, there has been increasing awareness within the media of the problem of concussions in high school sports.  This awareness has raised the level of concern by parents, coaches and administrators, but the awareness hasn’t raised the collective knowledge level.  Proper recognition and treatment of concussions is still a problem.

Zach Kyle of the Idaho State Journal wrote an outstanding piece on the problem.  He writes:

Concussions always will be a reality in high school sports.

There’s no antidote.

The key for school districts, then, becomes preventing athletes with concussions from returning to the playing field, where a second concussion may cause more devastating – and long-term – consequences.

Kyle accurately describes the problem.  First, concussions exist and will always be a part of life (not just sports).  We do all we can to prevent them, but we won’t prevent all of them.  Secondly, proper management is the key to minimizing most of the long term problems we see with concussions.  He goes on to write:

The coach said he relies on athletic trainers, especially during games when the sideline is chaotic.

“In order to be as close to 100 percent accurate, you have to have a[n athletic] trainer,” Johnson said. “That’s their job. We’ve had a couple who are very keen on watching on how kids should react.”

While most schools have athletic trainers, less than 17 percent of Idaho high schools have athletic trainers licensed by the Idaho Board of Medicine, the state regulatory body.

Nationally the number of high schools providing athletic training services rises to 42% according to the National Athletic Trainers Association.  In my state of PA, almost 90% of the schools provide the services of an athletic trainer.

Another issue is the problem of school’s sharing services of 1 AT among multiple schools.  In some areas of the country, a school district will hire 1 AT to cover 2 or more high schools.  This is less than ideal because of the lack of relationships that can be developed.  Kyle tackles this issue also:

Last year, Olson was stretched thin serving as the licensed athletic trainer for both Idaho Falls and Skyline. She said athletes at the two District 91 high schools will receive better care with a second licensed athletic trainer.

“It’s a big thing in being a certified trainer to develop a rapport with the coaches and with the students,” Olson said. “You need consistent, everyday contact. It’s tough to keep track of injuries when you are at Idaho Falls one day and Skyline the next.”

I agree with the writer and with Ms. Olson, ATC quoted in the article – Licensed Athletic Trainers are the key to diagnosing and treating of concussions.  The main reason that ATs are the key is daily access and the relationships that the athletes develop with the ATs.  The ATs who have been in the high school for several years develop good relationships with these athletes and will draw on that relationship when it comes to recognizing the often subtle signs of a concussion.

America’s high schools should provide the services of a full time athletic trainer in part to offer the expert diagnosis and treatment of concussions.  Last year, 42 of my 678 student athletes (6.2%) in contact and collision sports suffered a concussion.  Concussions happen so it is vital that proper recognition and treatment be given to the concussed patient.  In athletics, the professional to provide that recognition and treatment is an athletic trainer.
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One Response to “News – Certified Athletic Trainers Key to Diagnosing and Treatment of Concussions”

  1. becky a pickard January 15, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    As a Certified Athletic Trainer I am often asked by my student athletes how to deal with the heat during the late summer months when getting in shape for their two-a-day training camps and for high school sports. I give them a few simple rules to follow:

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