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;