Please Let This Be The Beginning: A Public Invitation

28 Apr

The blog began simply enough, making notice of information about concussion in a time when there was so much misunderstanding.  It turned into a cathartic exercise on how I have dealt with concussions as an athletic trainer – the good and the bad.  It has slowly morphed into a platform for change; not only concussions but the healthcare profession of athletic training, in particular at the secondary school level (high school).

Adolescent concussion is not only staggering in terms of exposure but in terms of mismanagement, the true problem in this concussion crisis, in my humble opinion.  I feel – biased – that athletic trainers not only can help with the management but with the overall “acceptance” of this brain injury as it relates to sports.  Because of those thoughts I have been openly and behind the scenes, clamoring for a way to get more AT’s in the high school.  Not just game-day ATC’s either, full-time and daily coverage for our most vulnerable.  The analogy still remains: would you send you kid to a public swimming pool without a life guard on duty?  Why would you send your kid to collision sports without an athletic trainer on duty?

Yes, this is being spurred on by the concussion issue at hand, but in reality an athletic trainer is SO MUCH MORE!  We deal with the mundane (common cold) to the emergent (cardiac arrest) when it comes to athletic or high school (dealing with situations during a school day) injuries.

I came across a tweet today from Rick Burkholder (@proatc), Head Athletic Trainer of the Kansas City Chiefs that is putting this into action.

The NFL is starting a grant process to place certified athletic trainers (ATC’s) into more high schools.  The monies are limited from what I can tell, but this is the start that I have been dreaming of for the past few years.

You can read the entire NFLF ATC Grant by clicking on the link to see all the details but here are the highlights:

  • The NFL Foundation, as part of its commitment to enhancing sports safety, has introduced a new segment of the Club Youth Football Matching Grant program designed to help NFL teams increase  access to certified athletic trainers in their communities.
  • The grant is structured as a 1:1 match, with the NFL Foundation providing one dollar for every dollar a team commits to the program, up to a limit of $25,000 in NFL Foundation funding per club. Matching grants in excess of $25,000 will only be considered in connection with extraordinary, far-reaching ATC outreach initiatives.
  • The gold standard for care at the high school level is to have one or more full-time certified athletic trainers that provide preventative, acute, and rehabilitative care to student-athletes on a daily basis.  This coverage model allows for maximum on-site coverage and the development of trusting ATC/student relationships.
  • Any program that places an ATC in a high school should be designed with long-term sustainability in mind. For example, one way to structure a program would be as a 3-year initiative – with 100% of the cost of the ATC covered in year 1, 50% covered in year 2, and 25% in year 3. To be eligible for the program, the school or school district would be required to have a plan to ensure sustainability beyond the 3 year timeframe of the grant.

50% or thereabouts is the current level of athletic training coverage for US high schools; the numbers are even lower for full-time daily athletic trainers.  Many times clinics or hospitals provide the AT for the schools at a very low-cost hoping for downstream revenue.  That model is difficult to fully control and at times schools lose coverage due to business decisions (I have been part of that TWICE).  It is unfair to schools and the to the AT who has busted their behind to make a markedly stark improvement in sports medicine coverage.  This is why this type of grant needs to be copied and taken further if at all possible by anyone that can make it happen.

I stand and applaud the NFL for making this move – they get some criticism from me but they also deserve any and all positive accolades for this.

The grants are put into motion by the clubs themselves; in other words it will be the teams that make the application and find the partner to share this grant money with.  Because of this, I would like to openly ask/beg for this grant to be used at my place of employment.  <— This is where you roll your eyes and say what a turd! HAHAHAHAHA.

Regardless if my employer is lucky enough to receive this grant (which we could use to get more AT’s at more rural schools in our area) please contact whom ever you can to make this happen for your area.  I don’t know if it was some of my posts/rants/tweets that possibly brought this to the attention of the NFL and its teams, but I do know that some great people read here and communicate with me.  I would like to end this by saying;

THANK YOU!

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2 Responses to “Please Let This Be The Beginning: A Public Invitation”

  1. George Visger April 28, 2014 at 10:16 #

    I suffered a major concussion in the 1st quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in 1980 when I was ear holed on a Dallas tight end trap. In the 4th quarter I suffered a similar hit to the opposite temple. Later in the week when my memory finally returned, the trainers and team doctor laughingly told me I went through over 20 smelling salts during the game to keep me on the field. I never missed a play or practice.

    Early in the following 81 Super Bowl season I developed hydrocephalus, which they misdiagnosed as high blood pressure for 17 days before undergoing emergency VP Shunt brain surgery. Four months after our Super Bowl XVI win, my shunt failed while fishing in Mexico, brought home in a coma and survived 2 more shunt surgeries 10 hrs apart, went into a coma and was given last rites.

    Returned to school in 1986 to complete my biology degree and survived 5 emergency shunt surgeries and several gran mal seizures in a 9 month period (while enrolled in chemistry and physics courses). Finally graduated in 1990 with a BS in Biological Conservation, dyslexia, major short term memory issues, insomnia, and gran mal seizures. Have been a Wildlife Biologist/Environmental consultant since.

    Now on brain surgery # 9. Launched The Visger Group – Traumatic Brain Injury consulting in 2010 and speak all over the country on Coping Mechanisms: Surviving a Brain Damaged By Football. We consult with schools, teams, hospitals, military and various TBI groups. The Visger has an incredible Military Advisory Panel (2 Purple Hears, Bronze Star etc), and the top doctors in the world on hyperbaric oxygen treatment (Dr Paul Harch, Dr Phillip James), preventing and reducing inflammatory response through natural anti oxidants and Omega 3 fish oils (Dr Barry Sears), and I consult directly with Dr. Rich Ellenbogen, head of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Injury Group.

    You can see from the article below how many of my suggestions to the NFL in 2010 have been implemented to date. This year they will implement pre season micro cognitive testing to establish baseline data. No more holding a finger up to clear you to play.

    The NFL has also agreed to treat 50 acute head injuries with hyperbaric oxygen treatments.

    Visger Rules – Recommended Changes to NFL Rules | The Sport Digest Dec 16, 2010 … George Visger, who played defensive tackle for the University of Colorado in the 1977 Orange Bowl, and won a Super Bowl championship in 1981 thesportdigest.com/…/visger-rules-recommended-changes-to-nfl-rules/

    I have had great results with neuro plasticity, hyperbaric oxygen treatments (my micro cognitive memory scores have improved over 15% the last 4 yrs and I’m 55), and large doses of Dr Sears Omega 3 fish oils (8 – 12 grams/day), and natural anti oxidants like concentrated cranberry, blueberry, and acai berry juices and capsules

    For information on TBI recovery, go to our website: http://www.thevisgergroup.org

    ESPN OUTSIDE THE LINES: The Damage Done 020813

    http://es.pn/12z0kbJ

    Short, Choppy Steps

    George Visger
    Wildlife BIologist/TBI Consultant
    The Visger Group
    http://www.thevisgergroup.org

  2. NFL Tickets July 28, 2014 at 08:42 #

    I had at least 2 documented concussions playing youth football and numerous ones that were never documented. I often wonder if my memory issues today are a result of those concussions. Today I am a coach for youth football and we do baseline testing for our kids before the season to help us during the season to test for concussions. Obviously the concussion rules in football have come a long way but have a long ways to go. Good luck to you and your battle with the NFL.

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