Not Funding Athletic Trainers = Bad Idea

If you have athletic trainers in place then you suddenly remove them it can create a disastrous situation for the school or district. Why? It is rather simple, the coaches, parents, kids and admins of the schools have become accustom to the nationally recognized allied health care provider being around for injury consultation, evaluations, and prevention measures including helping with conditioning. Not only that in the hot months of early football the athletic trainer is the neutral guardian against heat emergencies like heat stroke. The athletic trainer at high schools, especially those with collision sports, are necessary; not only for concussion but for all other injuries mainly the catastrophic type that occur everywhere on any given day. In essence the athletic trainer is akin to a lifeguard at a community pool.

Would you send your kids to a pool without a lifeguard?

By removing what has been used for some time, ALL of the burden will fall upon the school districts and coaches, certainly a liability that is not needed in this day and age.

This is happening – in an area that WAS ahead of the curve when it came to athletic trainers and high schools – Winston-Salem and Forsyth counties in North Carolina.

The certified athletic trainers assist coaches and players year-round at practice and games in evaluating injuries and working with their rehabilitation.

Considering that 4,231 high school students played in at least one sport in the 2011-12 academic year in Forsyth County schools, the program covered 27 percent of all students enrolled, according to school system data.

Several hundred athletes went through the return-to-play protocol as they recovered from injuries ranging from concussions and pulled muscles to sprained or broken joints and extremities, breathing limitations and heat exhaustion, according to school athletic officials and certified athletic trainers.

That includes 153 who experienced at least one concussion, according to data provided by the medical centers.[…]

Certified athletic trainers “are incredibly valuable on several fronts,” said Comstock. “A concussion and a catastrophic injury can happen at any time with any sport.”[…]

The Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center was founded at UNC Chapel Hill in 2009 for research on sport-related traumatic brain injuries.

“The law underscores the importance of having an emergency action plan in place,” said Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz, director of the center. “The emphasis is on the need for education about these injuries, and I think that policy will help keep kids safe.”

Bob and Lisa Gfeller, Matthew’s parents, have declined to comment on the potential end of the program.

However, in an email sent Tuesday to school system and hospital officials, Lisa Gfeller said: “The primary responsibility of these professionals is to keep our kids safe. I think we all agree that this is a necessity, and I hope we can work together to keep this program funded.”

Others who emailed Superintendent Martin said they would have trouble supporting a new football field or other athletic venues if the program ended for lack of funding.

Ashley Donahue, who helps coordinate the certified trainer program for Wake Forest Baptist, said in her email appeal to the county commissioners that the potential loss of the program “will return the burden of providing adequate medical care for all student-athletes to the WS/FC school system.”

“I think it is clear that a program that pushed this county to the forefront of athletic medical care is going to take a giant step backward if this program is cut,” Donahue said.

Yes, funding is an issue, I get that… However…

Would you send your kids to a pool without a lifeguard?

2 thoughts on “Not Funding Athletic Trainers = Bad Idea

  1. A Concerned Mom June 25, 2012 / 12:36

    The question that keep coming to mind for me, is after all the media attention focused on proper safety precautions for the professional leagues, such as the NFL and NHL, what happens if and when a catastrophic injury occurs at a school lacking an athletic trainer and/or appropriate safety policies and procedures? We’ve reached the point where those involved in sports should know better – how will arguments about lack of resources play in the face of such an injury or death?

  2. Michael Hopper June 25, 2012 / 13:54

    It’s time the school steps up to the plate here. I realize budget cuts are out there and the states are underfunding these schools. But this is the school’s priority first, the state’s second, and other organizations third. They cannot expect the hospitals to continue to fund this program as they are continually getting underpaid for their services.

    If a school cannot provide the healthcare for its athletes, then they cannot afford athletics.

    Every Athlete Deserves an Athletic Trainer.

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