A new study has found that student athletes who have no access or limited access to athletic trainers are less likely to have concussions diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. According to a report on WPR.org, trainers are licensed medical providers who are equipped to diagnose head injuries after blows to the head. They can also ensure athletes aren’t cleared to return to play too soon.
What the Study Found
The study was done by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health who surveyed the state’s 400 high schools that offer competitive sports on what their access to athletic trainers looked like. They found that only a third of those surveyed have athletic trainers available during practices and games. The other two-thirds of schools have limited or extremely limited access to trainers. Using survey results, researchers tracked the injuries suffered by about 2,400 students across 31 schools statewide.
They found that on average, students would have a sports-related concussion assessed within an hour of the injury if they were enrolled in a school with a greater availability of athletic trainers. However, if the student were in a school with a lower availability of trainers, they would typically wait 24 hours until they had the concussion evaluated. This is a critical finding because a failure to diagnose and treat a concussion in a timely manner can have serious repercussions.
That’s because if the brain doesn’t have the time to fully heal, they will be prone to more concussions in the future. Researchers who conducted the study also found that 94 percent of students who had athletic trainers at their schools for at least 20 hours a week went through a designated concussion protocol before they returned to their sport.
Funding Makes a Difference
This study is cause for concern because it points to the fact that schools that are in low-income neighborhoods might be lacking in access to athletic trainers thereby putting student athletes in those schools at a greater risk of long-term brain damage. In addition to income levels, access to hospitals and clinics is also key when it comes to access to trainers. High school athletes in general don’t have the same level of access to trainers as college-level athletes or professional athletes.
Our brain injury lawyers believe that it is important the high schools in California and around the country invest in their sports programs and their students by hiring more athletic trainers who can help ensure that students are healthy and protected from the dangers posed by contact sports especially football.