Sports Safety Presentation

August 4, 2011

Six years ago July 5 I had an experience that changed my life. It wasn’t the first time that I was close to this type of situation, but it was the first time that I was directly involved. I was working in a clinic the day after a pleasent 4th. Patients were being treated and there was one wellness patient in the clinic. He was a regular. He would come in, do his thing, usually chat for a bit, fill out his clipboarded paper meticulously and then leave. We would see him tomorrow or the next day invariably. He was a former professional baseball player.

This gentleman was resting after his usual routine while I was preparing to put a patient on a stationary bike. Something caught my attention. He would sometimes ask a question or maybe for help with something. He was a polite man, so he would never interupt what was going on. I look to the man to see him wave to me, as if to come over. He called my name, “Ryan…” And then the next moment his head slunk back in a way that will not ever escape my memory. The physical therapist and I performed CPR on him for what may have been 10 minutes. Regardless, it was too long. There was no life left in him and I knew it as the ambulance attempted to sustain whatever life may have been left. There was none. That moment changed my life. I was no longer unaware of the risks and possibilities. I was now very aware of my responsibilities and role. How I practice everyday is different because of that one day that sticks in my mind.

I have put together a sports safety presentation for Pennridge School District that will take place today. The focus of my sports safety presenation is on injury prevention. A safe environment is one where few injuries take place. Pennridge is my responsibility to ensure that, as athletic trainer, student-athletes have a safe environment for athletics. This is a huge responbility in a school this size. I don’t even have a chance of knowing everyone’s name, much less their injury past.

In addition, Pennridge supports middle school sports at three different schools. The coaches that are there are primarily responsible for the safety of these athletes. But is that their priority? Are they doing the things that need to be done?

There is a huge disconnect between the care that is available at any other level of athletics and middle schools across the United States. This is unfortunate. Nationally the access to athletic training services in high schools is pathetic, to put it very nicely. The access that middle school athletes have to athletic trainers is dismally pathetic. School districts assume that they are providing sufficent care. If that is the case why have a school nurse at every school?

If your school sponsors athletics it is vital to the safety and well-being of the student-athletes to have the services of an athletic trainer.

The presentation that is taking place tomorrow is covering weight room safety and injury prevention, common sports injuries, concussion, and athletic training services at Pennridge. If you are an athletic trainer I would encourage you to plan an event similiar to this. It will help in establishing yourself as the go-to person for sports safety. You can, like I have done, invite the local media and appropriate politicians. The chair of the state house education committee represents the district and it just so happens that sports safety (aka concussion) legislation is in his committee awaiting final approval.

Sports safety is not new. But the news is making the implications of unsafe sports very visible. Between concussion, cardiac deaths, and heat related deaths there is a microscope on this topic. Athletic trainers are the resource. A very underutilized resource, but a resource. School districts need to understand our value and begin to budget for appropriate levels of athletic training services.

If you are a parent and are concerned about sports safety and you do not know your athletic trainer I would urge you to make it a point to introduce yourself. Make sure that they have the appropriate certification and state licensing. Your interest will be appreciated.

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2 Responses to “Sports Safety Presentation”

  1. Mike Horan Says:

    Never realized you had this kind of experience before. I am blessed that I have not!


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