This is one heck of a way to start out National Athletic Trainer Month…
Paul Welliver, a name that should be remembered and learned about. Welliver is a certified athletic trainer in Maryland and was until a few weeks ago the athletic trainer at Winters Mill High School. The only one the school has ever known; being outsourced from Maryland SportsCare & Rehab. The admin at the High School asked his employer to have him no longer provide service for them. Welliver (at time of post) has not been fired from Maryland SportsCare & Rehab.
Why, you ask?
Because this athletic trainer stood up for what he believed and knows about concussions. Unfortunately, this scene is all to familiar with us high school athletic trainers. The story is from Carroll County Times;
The Carroll County Public Schools Supervisor of Athletics Jim Rodriguez and Winters Mill High School Principal Eric King told Welliver’s boss at Maryland SportsCare & Rehab that they did not want him to continue his position at Winters Mill, according to Welliver. After 10 years as the school’s athletic trainer, his last day was Feb. 12. [...]
Welliver said on four different occasions in the last 18 months, he refused to begin the protocol that is meant to gradually release student-athletes back into sports participation after a concussion. The protocol, also known as Return to Play, is supposed to begin once a student-athlete returns a medical clearance form after their injury has been classified as a concussion.
In this school district they have a pretty solid concussion policy and protocol highlighted in the story, however when the one person – and last line of defense for the student-athlete – stands up for the protection of the children he is summarily dismissed;
He said the athletic trainer has to sign off on a student-athlete’s return to full contact and competition following a diagnosed concussion.
Welliver’s refusal to start the protocol all four times was because he was concerned about the safety of the student-athletes, he said. He is worried about their short- and long-term health, he said.
“There are times when I do not believe they should return to the sport,” Welliver said. “It is not safe.” [...]
“I treat all those athletes like they are my children,” he said. “Sometimes I spend more time with other people’s children than my own.”
He is exactly correct! As if he had to really explain it to people who should not be part of the process he did for the article;
“I take into account many factors, including the number and severity of previous injuries and the age and grade of the student,” he wrote on Facebook. “It would be much easier to go along with the pressure of returning the student A.S.A.P., but I have seen way too many poor outcomes after multiple head injuries.” [...]
In addition to his decision to keep student-athletes from playing their sport after a concussion based on age, grade and the severity and number of previous concussions they have experienced, he also takes into consideration the sport or sports the athlete would return to. Their return could take longer if they play high-collision sports.
Shockingly, the school district and those that put the separation is motion had no comment.
Welliver did and does it right based on all accounts, the man – athletic trainer – father and proud supporter of Winters Mill HS was doing what was in the best interest of the kids… I repeat KIDS! Does this school make it a point to fire/remove coaches because certain kids are not getting enough playing time? Are the admins intimately involved in the medical care of all student athletes? No where does this say it was standard operating procedure for Welliver to hold out EVERY athlete with concussion, just these four in the past 18 months.
Who was making the case for Welliver to go? Was it disgruntled parents? Was it doctors that felt they were being undermined?
Parents really don’t have a leg to stand on with this issue and any caving to them would be shameful for the district, in my opinion. If the local docs had an issue, perhaps they could have spoke with Welliver and figured out why this man was trying to provide superior/proper management. Just because its on paper, concussions are not a simple check list. Even return to play is not linear. Every case, every injury is unique; not to mention all the compounding factors that Welliver explained.
This entire situation stinks of over-reaction and power grabbing. Welliver did the kids a solid, he once provided great care to a school; now they will have to find someone else to fill the void.
He took a stand and for this I stand applaud!
Spread the word, and keep it up Paul Welliver.