Keeping student-athletes safe as season kicks off
Whether you have a student-athlete on the football field or the volleyball court, safety during high school sports is always a priority.
Trevor O’Brien, M.S., A.T.C., athletic trainer at U-M’s MedSport, says athletes and families should know high school athletic trainers are there to help should an injury arise during practice or a game.
“We always want parents to know their students are in good hands,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien is a high school athletic trainer for one of 20 schools in the Metro Detroit area that have contracted with U-M MedSport for services throughout the school year.
O’Brien said there are several sports-related injuries high school athletic trainers often see. Here are some of the most common injuries with ways to address them should something happen to your student-athlete:
Concussions tend to be seen more in contact sports such as football, hockey and wrestling, but can also be seen in sports such as cheerleading, basketball and soccer. O’Brien said the evaluation process for concussions should be easy for certified athletic trainers, but sometimes it becomes difficult when injured athletes don’t want to admit their symptoms because they want to continue playing. If trainers suspect an individual is displaying concussion-like symptoms, they follow Michigan state law and remove the athlete from play and make sure he or she receives a physician evaluation.
“There is currently no solid prevention method for concussions,” O’Brien said. “Over the last five or so years, the focus has been educating parents, coaches and athletes on signs and symptoms, proper return to play following a concussion and teaching proper mechanics during tackling drills.”
He recommended educating yourself and your family on the symptoms of a concussion should it happen on your watch.
Sprains, tears and contusions
O’Brien said the most common injury he tends to see in student-athletes is an ankle sprain. Ligament sprains, muscle strains and bone contusions are also seen in almost every sport.
“Parents should try to immobilize the injury as quickly as possible and can also put an ice pack on the injury to reduce swelling, pain and bruising,” O’Brien said.
Athletic trainers see dislocated fingers, shoulders, kneecaps and shoulder separations, among others. “In these situations we often splint the body part to stabilize it while calling the athlete’s parent or guardian to take them to the hospital for further X-rays and treatment,” O’Brien said.
Dehydration, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are common health threats for athletes, especially if activities take place outside.
He recommended making sure your athlete stays properly hydrated throughout the day leading up to, during and after the practice or event. Should they experience heat stroke, O’Brien said the only effective treatment is cold water submersion followed by immediate transport to an emergency facility.
CPR and first aid
Be sure to know CPR (check out our easy video to learn how) should you encounter someone needing help. If your student-athlete is prescribed an EpiPen, make sure he or she takes it to all practices and events.
These tips will help make sure every athlete gets the treatment he or she needs this fall season. Should an injury arise, the UMHS Northville Health Center offers a sports injury clinic every Saturday from Aug. 27 to Nov. 5. The clinic is open between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. each Saturday except for Labor Day weekend. Walk-ins or appointments are both accepted, and the clinic can be reached at 248-305-4400 for more information.