Connect & Collaborate: High School Sports Medicine

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By Published On: February 7, 2019

A recent symposium provided an opportunity for high school sports medicine professionals to connect and collaborate.

When it comes to keeping high school athletes healthy and safe, there is no shortage of people who care and want to be involved—athletic trainers, parents, coaches, school nurses, school administrators, doctors, and physical therapists at associated clinics all have a role to play. However, there’s often no forum for all of these people to communicate about athletes’ care.

Last month in New York, 100 professionals who work with high school athletes came together to change that. According to an article in Newsday, coaches, teachers, administrators, school nurses, physicians, athletic directors, and athletic trainers met for a one-day symposium at the NYU Winthrop Research and Academic Center in Mineola.

“The challenge of sports injuries … remains and recurs every year,” former state Senator Kemp Hannon said. “This [symposium] is a group split between people who have been involved in school athletics for a while and some who are pretty new at this. You need to have this because there’s no other place for it. It’s a good thing that Winthrop stepped in to provide this information.”

The “Management of the Secondary School Athlete” symposium, the first of what is intended to become an annual event, addressed several key issues. Not surprisingly, concussions were at the top of the list.

Another discussion topic involved expanding the use of game film as a tool in assessing injuries. At some of the schools that participated in the symposium, video of plays is already sent to iPads on the sidelines for use by sports medicine staff.

“It gives our athletic trainer instant feedback on what happened,” said Garden City High School Head Football Coach Dave Ettinger. “Instead of just taking the athletes description of the injury, they’re able to watch the video and get some clues as to what happened from the video.”

The importance of properly fitting equipment for high school athletes provided a third subject for discussion. Presenters pointed out the particular importance of having good-fitting equipment for football players.

“Although we won’t be able to get rid of [injuries] completely, having a properly fitted helmet and having shoulder pads that fit properly can help in keeping athletes safer,” Ettinger said.

Bringing so many people who serve high school athletes together to share information and ideas was a rare and valuable opportunity, according to Stephen Wirth, PT, Administrative Director of Outpatient Rehab Services and Sports Medicine at NYU Winthrop Hospital.

“After doing this for quite a while and seeing the disconnect between so many different entities that work with student athletes, it gave us the idea to bring all the stakeholders together to make a huge difference in how secondary student athletes are being cared for,” Wirth said.

Interested in learning more about how athletic trainers and other sport professionals are helping to keep high school students safe? Don’t miss our article, “Detecting Concussions: an Athletic Trainer and Physician Team Up.”

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