Connecticut Medicine

Mar 2015

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volume 79, no. 3 171 Athletic Trainers in Connecticut Schools a Must Fred Balsamo, Cmaa H igh school and middle schools sports programs in Connecticut provide a tremendous opportu- nity for young people to grow both physically and mentally. Participation in the right program with a coach that sees the student-athlete as a developing young person is fundamental to the growth and maturity of our young people. Providing these student-athletes with a safe environment is paramount so that the positive physi- cal and social experiences can be obtained. In addition to having the right coaches, well cared for fields and courts, and the best equipment, schools need to provide appropriate medical supervision for all aspects of their athletic program. sports have an inherent risk of injury, which needs to be minimized by each coach teaching proper tech- niques, and the school should provide quality equipment which is properly sized and fitted. one way to further minimize the risk of injury and provide the proper in- tervention when an injury occurs is to utilize a certified athletic trainer (aTC). aTCs are trained to deal with the prevention and treatment of sports related injuries. eir oversight of the student-athlete's participation can have far-reaching effects. In addition to prepar- ing athletes for practices and competitions, he/she can evaluate an athlete's readiness to return to participation after an injury, following surgery, and perhaps even more importantly, assure that each student-athlete is properly prepared for the season through a planned off-season training program. an aTC's presence during practices and contests pro- vides early opportunities to recognize injuries, especially concussions, and ensures a speedy pursuit of the proper treatment and care of those injuries. ey can provide a consistent implementation of an emergency action plan when needed and as first responders they can provide im- mediate emergency care to an injured athlete. an aTC is invaluable to a school district in preventing exposure to liability by developing and instituting a standardized policy and procedure protocol for all sports injuries, by overseeing the athletics insurance claims, by providing prevention and treatment education to athletes and coaches, and by helping to develop and monitor dynamic strength and conditioning programs that are free of contraindicated exercises. Why do we need a certified athletic trainer now? It has become increasingly evident that there is a growing concern about the safety of our interscholastic sports. recent concussion and sudden cardiac arrest legislation have placed further mandates on schools and coaches in our state, which already has the most stringent coaching education requirements in the country. additionally, the Connecticut Interscholastic athletic Conference (CIaC), the state's governing body for school sports, has placed further mandates on schools dealing with heat ac- climatization, contact times in football practices and the reporting of all football-related injuries to the state office. ese mandates were not initiated by catastrophic events, but rather because of the vision and foresight needed to prevent such occurrences. ese are all necessary steps to insure the safety of our student-athletes. Unfortunately, in many instances it is unclear how or who is actually responsible to ensure all measures and safeguards are implemented and monitored properly is unclear. Without the help of an individual on staff who is well trained in medical concepts, these responsibilities will fall upon the shoulders of individuals that have minimal training and not allow the safest possible environment for athletic participation to exist. an aTC is properly positioned to perform these duties and lessen the already extensive job responsibilities of coaches and athletic administrators at each school. How can the athletic trainer help implement concus- sion legislation? e Connecticut concussion legislation of 2010 and 2014 1 has increased the requirements and extended the efforts that each school needs to make to ensure the proper diagnosis and care of concussed student-athletes. Having an aTC on staff to properly Fred Balsamo, Cmaa, executive director, Connecticut association of athletic directors, Cheshire, fbalsamo@casciac.org.

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