Concussions. Heat. Lightning. Conflict. Value. Retention.
If you work at a high school as an athletic trainer, all of these issues become part of your job.
Athletic trainers from five states — Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming as well as Utah — gathered in Provo Friday morning to discuss these topics and share their experiences as part of the 2014 Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainers Association Annual Clinical Symposium and Business Meeting.
In a session dedicated to talking about current issues in secondary schools, they broke down some of the big concerns and how to approach them.
These athletic trainers play a pivotal role in helping keep your high school athletes safe and healthy so what is important to them could directly affect your kids.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the main issues that were discussed:
Not surprisingly, these dangerous and potentially-deadly head injuries brought together the largest number of athletic trainers.
American Fork athletic trainer Becky Bailey joined with Dr. Steve Peters, a neuropsychologist at Utah Valley Sports Medicine in Provo, to lead the discussion and talk about how to handle concussions, specifically focused on the role of athletic trainers in having an athlete return to the classroom after a concussion.
“Most concussion symptoms — 70 to 90 percent — are resolved in two weeks,” Peters said. “But symptoms can be exacerbated if there are irritants to the brain, which can be both physical and mental.”
Since the brain is such a complicated mechanism, Peters said the severity of the symptoms can be hard to gauge. That’s why he tries to have the kid take ownership of his own treatment and work with both families and schools to determine when to increase or decrease certain activities.
After a concussion, he said it takes time for the brain to get back to full functionality. Frequently electronic devices — cell phones, computers, video games, television and movies — make it even harder for the brain to regain cognitive abilities because they overstimulate the mind.
Peters emphasized that the key to physical, mental and recreational recovery is doing things as symptoms tolerate.
"If they are getting headaches or having trouble sleeping, it’s an indication that the brain needs rest,” Peters said. “You want to manage the rate of stimuli.”
Heat and Lightning protocols
Head injuries may be a hot topic but they are far from the only dangerous decisions that athletic trainers are involved in.
Two other areas of concern are related to keeping kids safe from excessive heat and the dangers of lightning.
Some of the protocols being put in place are to increase awareness and understanding of the risks and minimize the potential for catastrophe.
Due to their position as a liaison to a variety of interested individuals — athletes, coaches, administrators, doctors, teachers, etc. — athletic trainers often find themselves in the midst of conflicts.
One of the biggest concerns is working with school administrations, who often have different priorities or are faced with budget or other limitations.
An idea that was brought up was to take time to make presentations to both administrators and teachers so establish the importance of athlete health and explain what the athletic trainers are doing to ensure the kids are able to enjoy athletics while still being successful students.
With state education budgets always being stretched, the athletic trainers emphasized the need to show the value they have in secondary schools.
One of the ways this occurs is with the hands-on training they can provide for students in an internship capacity, thus allowing kids to get a feel for the sports medicine industry.
Wrestling is a challenging sports for athletic trainers since it is one of few where participants can’t be substituted when they get injured. Instead, they have a limited amount of time to have their injury assessed and their ability to continue determined.
Specific concerns included weight management, skin conditions and concussion guidelines.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @UVPrepRally.