Athlete Safety

August 6, 2012

Many states at this point have a concussion law in place. There are some states with heat illness laws, EpiPen laws, or sudden cardiac arrest law in place. This is a new aspect for many athletic trainers. We now have laws that specifically dictate how things are to be done. This is all in the name of “athlete safety.” The politics involved certainly makes things more complicated, but the intent of the law is certainly on point.

First of all I would encourage you to understand the law that is in place. It may limit your practice based on how you used to do things. This may seem inconvenient or it may feel liberating. Either way it is the law. Sometimes we don’t agree with the shape of the law. Many times it could be much better for the purpose of actually protecting a student-athlete. Understanding what the law allows and mandates is what is going to help in keeping us out of court and maintaining our license.

Second, we must continue to be involved in the process and make sure that the law is shaped properly. If we don’t then someone else surely will. There are plenty of other groups that want to have say in how athletic trainers practice and increase their ability to practice. There was a blog that I saw recently that stated that optometrists and physical therapists were the main reason that a concussion bill is held up in Ohio. These groups wish to be included even though their ability to make return to play decisions is in question. Physicians do not want to allow those that are not fully qualified making those decisions.

Lastly, athletic trainers need to be aware that more athlete safety laws may be coming. Could you be the one that educates a legislator about an issue? Could you be that point-person? Maybe you are the one that brings the issue to the table. Your legislators do not know the issues and are nowhere near the expert that you are. Others may step in to fill the void and be the “expert” for them. Be recognized as that professional. As the expert. As the go-to.

I can’t predict what the next issue is going to be. Each state is at a different stage in the game already, just like with licensure. You can choose now to be on the sideline and watch the game and the inevitable outcome. Or you can be in the game and making a positive difference on the outcome. It’s your choice. It is either the first quarter or halftime. You may not be the quarterback, but you have a role to play. Will you watch the score or will you be the difference-maker in the score? Step inside the lines.

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