New York State Athletic Trainers Step Up Their Outreach Education

Coming up with a good game plan is only part of the formula. Executing that game plan is the key to successful community outreach. Concussion management is an educational process affecting coaches, trainers, physicians, administrative personnel, players and parents. It goes without saying that all the affected parties must fully understand the dangers of concussions and how to treat them in the short, as well as long term.

This educational focus was in full emphasis when the New York State Athletic Trainers’ Association (NYSATA) got “involved in the NYS Athletic Administrators Association conference in mid-March, with representatives presenting on concussion management strategies and hosting an exhibit booth. Efforts continued in April with participation in a concussion management panel for a secondary school physician consortium.

NYSATA was instrumental in coordinating a presentation and panel discussion for high school athletic directors on concussion management strategies to meet the 2012 NYS legislation – Concussion Awareness and Management Act and subsequent Guidelines.”

Panel discussions “focused on highlighting the roles of the athletic healthcare team and how to best manage head injuries and return-to-play, driving home the point that a ‘team approach is the best way to identify, assess, and manage head/brain injuries.’”

Comments from several athletic directors in attendance “focused on how hard it is to manage these injuries when a school does not have an AT,” which is further complicated with the challenges of “how best to implement and administer a concussion management program as it relates to the NYS law.”

In addition to participating in the panel discussions, “NYSATA also hosted an Exhibit booth, to answer questions and disseminate information to attendees. Handouts included information on sports-injury statistics, how an AT can save a school money, how an AT can provide better safety, prevention, and athletic healthcare for student-athletes, and sample concussion management documents.”

NYSATA’s involvement in its educational outreach intensified on April 10 when two of its trainers served as part of “a panel discussing concussion management at the secondary school level for a consortium of school physicians.”

Clearly defining the role of the athletic trainer in concussion management was of concern to one physician attendee who “alluded to the NYS scope of practice for ATs and seeming restrictions regarding ‘rehabilitation of neurological conditions.’”

This concern was addressed by Dave Byrnes, MS, ATC. “Concussions are not ‘rehabilitated’ in the classic sense, as the current accepted rehabilitation of a concussion is rest; but athletic trainers, rather, oversee the ‘reconditioning’ of the athlete after they have been medically cleared to begin that process. The expertise of certified athletic trainers in the area of concussion management makes them the most qualified staff member in the school setting to identify potential problems post-injury and during the reconditioning phase, as well as work with the physician on an appropriate return-to-play protocol. The primary role of an AT is the identification, assessment, and proper medical referral of possible head and brain injuries, in addition to educating parents, athletes, and school officials, including coaches, about concussions.”

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