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Guidelines Focus on Effective Sports-Medicine Management for Youth-Athletes

By guest blogger Gina Cairney

Competitive sports, like football and soccer, are not without risks; it's estimated that about one million injuries occur to secondary school athletes every year at practice and games.

Last month, the National Athletic Trainer's Association released best practices guidelines for sports-medicine management at the secondary and collegiate levels.

The guidelines were created to address a variety of issues, Michael Goldenberg, a member of the NATA board of directors, said in a statement.

"Institutions are hiring athletic trainers for the first time and uncertainties exist regarding the administrative authority and supervision of the athletic trainer," said Goldenberg, the director of athletics and an athletic trainer at Lawrenceville School in New Jersey.

To guide school personnel, coaches, athletic trainers, and school physicians on effective and efficient sports-medicine procedures, the task force's recommendations focused on decisions regarding student-athlete eligibility before and after an injury, as well as administrative duties related to hiring and dismissing athletic trainers, creating a system to provide quality medical care, and developing a performance-evaluation system for athletic trainers and sports-medicine team members working at schools.

Sports-related injuries, especially concussions, which Bryan Toporek has written extensively on this blog, can have serious repercussions, especially for young athletes who may still be in the prime of their athletic careers.

Some states, like Connecticut, have established laws focused on studying student-athlete injury rates.

The NFL and General Electric even launched a four-year, $60 million research partnership in March focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of mild traumatic brain injuries like concussions.

Texas and Illinois even went as far as making modifications to youth and high school football, by limiting the number of full contact during football practices and games.

It's not just contact sports where injuries are occurring, however.

Dancers and cheerleaders are also experiencing an increased rate of injury.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, Ohio, suspects that dance injuries are a result of dancers spending more time training and practicing, working through injuries.

And as cheerleading becomes more competitive, the stunts have become more complex, leading to higher instances of injuries among participants.

With injuries among young athletes so prevalent, it seems any effort to help minimize, even prevent, sports-related injuries has become critical. Whether this changes the game in a drastic way, however, remains to be seen.

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledInSport on Twitter.

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