Will Athletic Trainers Make High School Sports Safer?
NFL Taps UConn to Administer and Research Athletic Trainer Program
Hoping to make high school sports safer, the NFL Foundation has tapped UConn to administer and research a program to get athletic trainers in high schools in four states this fall.
Under the pilot program, the NFL will award grants to place athletic trainers in 75 high schools in Oklahoma, Arizona, Illinois, and Oregon.
“You cannot overstate the value of having a medical professional right there on the sideline regarding medical care and ongoing treatment,” said Amy Jorgensen, director of health and safety initiatives for the NFL. “Overall, the current research states that 30 percent of high schools don’t have an athletic trainer program. There seems to be a real need.”
At each school, the trainer’s priority will be football games and practices, but he or she will attend to other high school sports as time permits, Jorgensen said.
“The NFL’s overarching goal is how to make high school sports safer in America” said Douglas Casa, CEO of UConn’s Korey Stringer Institute (KSI), which will run the program. “Athletic trainers deal with prevention and treatment, yet one-third of high schools in America have no access to athletic trainers.”
High school sports account for an estimated:
- 2 million injuries
- 500,000 doctor visits, and
- 30,000 hospitalizations each year
The NFL Foundation gave a $900,000 philanthropic grant to KSI to administer and award grants for trainers and assess the program. KSI’s mission is to research, educate, advocate, and consult to maximize performance to optimize safety and prevent the sudden death of athletes, soldiers and laborers.
The four states in the pilot program were chosen because they were geographically diverse and had a high volume of student athletes and, at the same time, relatively few athletic trainers. A total of 288 high schools from the four states applied for the program.
“After the grant is used up, the hope is that the schools would develop a sustainable program over the course of that time,” Jorgensen said. “This helps them get started.”
In addition to administering the program, KSI will oversee a large-scale research study at all the schools. KSI researchers will examine the hiring process, injuries, catastrophic injury prevention, epidemiology, how and when injuries occur, and the financial impact on the school.
The project is being done in collaboration with Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society, Gatorade, and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.