The football season is officially over, however that does not mean the concussion risk is gone. Yes, it will be reduced slightly, but awareness is continued and the importance of an athletic trainer is underscored more. During the winter months we will spend time blogging about the life of an athletic trainer, what I do, and what we can do for schools.
It is now postseason for sports here in Illinois the time is now for teams to be at their best as the winner moves on. The state-series here in Illinois includes every high school participating in the sport. First is the Regionals where 5-8 teams at 32 sites begin the march to a state title (speaking of basketball), if the team advances they move on to Sectionals at 8 sites where 4 teams vie for a birth into Super Sectionals where 2 teams face of for a Final Four birth.
This time of year is full of emotions like; excitement, happiness, and sadness. As an athletic trainer the excitement usually wins out until your team gets eliminated (and for the very few elation if they win it all). Part of our dealings with the school include post-season coverage including travel to away sites, this is where the excitement comes in.
Traveling to other schools that you usually have very little interaction with is exciting, a chance to reacquaint with other athletic training peers, or administrations you know allows us to network. Network about families, jobs, injuries, hard times and recently concussions. It is good to hear that people and schools are taking actions, preparing for the coming of change about handling concussions, however it is also disheartening to hear that some schools just are not taking it serious or waiting until the last-minute.
The schools that seem to be slow on the issue are ones that do not have a regular athletic trainer or very limited access to them. The news and information about concussions is out there for them but without an advocate in the schools there are other issues that take precedence. So times like these are important to let schools and coaches know about the information out there and to answer any questions regarding the issue.
However, I must say that more people know what is “sort of happening” as opposed to last year this time. The introduction of the NFHS rule about concussions has sparked enough interest that people are at least more aware, and with resources like this blog even more are getting information. Getting everyone up to speed is going to be difficult with the current state of athletic training resources at all high schools, that is why there should be a singular goal, not unlike the post-season.
The goal should be for everyone to have access to concussion information via an athletic trainer, the profession that has the education, ability and disposition to get the information out and in a fashion that everyone can understand. Sure not every school can have/afford an athletic trainer, but not every team can win a State Championship but, EVERY TEAM has the same goal, win and move on. Every school district should have the same goal about athletic training, get one and become more prepared for the safety, health and well-being of the student athletes.