Athletic Trainers promote safety in sports through safety in football
The Arizona Athletic Trainers Initiative and the Arizona Athletic Trainers’ Association have organized a “Safety in Sports Campaign” to promote increased safety in football throughout Arizona.
It is the goal of the “Safety in Sports Campaign” to help each football team in the state identify ways in which they can decrease the risks of injury while still maintaining a focus on the fun and camaraderie that comes from participating in football.
Over the past several weeks, football players representing participating high schools and colleges throughout the state have worn a small sticker on the back of their helmets. This sticker represents the cumulative efforts of the schools, the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), Arizona Athletic Training Initiative and the Arizona Athletic Trainers’ Association (AzATA) to improve safety in youth football in Arizona.
“According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the presence of athletic trainers in secondary school lowers the overall injury rates, improves diagnosis and return to play section, and reduces the risk for repeat injuries,” Kofa High School Athletic Trainer Shannon Carmody said. “The sticker represents the effort that schools have made towards improving the overall safety of sport teams by having an athletic trainer. We do this in YUHSD by checking for properly fitted equipment, providing athletic training services for practices and competitions and being advocates for proper football techniques.”
Each year, coaching staffs across the state spend numerous hours coaching, teaching and mentoring football athletes on skill development, technique and safety in the game of football. Unfortunately, the efforts of the coaches alone are not sufficient to mitigate the inherent risks of the sport. For this reason, athletic trainers are vital components of safe and successful football teams.
Yuma Union High School District is supported by an Athletic Trainer at each of its five comprehensive high schools. The YUHSD Athletic Trainers are Hannah Kendrick, Cibola High School; Jamie Behr, Gila Ridge High School; Shannon Carmody, Kofa High School; Katia Rojas, San Luis High School; and Nick Santos, Yuma High School.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) explains the role of athletic trainers as “highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.” In addition to national certification required by the NATA, athletic trainers in Arizona must also hold a state license to practice.
Throughout Arizona, athletic trainers provide their clinical skill and expertise daily to improve the overall health and safety of all their athletes. According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the presence of athletic trainers in secondary schools lowers overall injury rates, improves diagnosis and return-to-play decisions, and reduces the risk for recurrent injuries. Both the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine recommended the placement of athletic trainers in secondary schools with athletic programs.
Schools or athletic leagues that do not have access to healthcare services provided by an athletic trainer can still participate by implementing the following steps to improve safety in football:
- Provide a regularly maintained Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at all practices and games
- Coordinate venue-specific Emergency Actions Plans with the local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provider
- Provide CPR/First Aid/AED training for those who oversee youth athletics
- Provide education about head injuries and their respective signs and symptoms to those who oversee youth athletes
- Have immediate access to cold-water immersion tubs during periods of hot weather
- Require current physical exams for participants to help identify underlying medical conditions
- Enforce current safety measures designed to eliminate head-first collisions