08.21.2012

Safety scores in school athletics

With the new school year around the corner, many student athletes and cheerleaders are already hard at practice. But school spirit can be dashed pretty quickly if a serious injury occurs.

Participation in organized sports continues to climb, with nearly 30 million children and adolescents participating in youth sports in the United States, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Unfortunately, high school athletics account for an estimated 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.

Parents don’t have to panic and pull their children out of worthwhile sports programs. However, a little education will go a long way toward keeping their student athletes safe.

The National Association of Athletic Trainers suggests that parents seek out the following in their children’s high school athletic programs:

  • A comprehensive emergency plan.
  • A full-time, on-site, qualified athletic health-care provider (i.e. trainer) available to student athletes at the school on a daily basis who has received training in the prevention, immediate care, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries.
  • A team physician/consulting physician well-versed in sports medicine, with whom the athletic health-care provider can consult.
  • Preseason medical screening/physical for all athletes annually, with documentation reviewed by the school-based athletic health-care provider to bring to the attention of the coaching staff any student athlete participating with a medical alert (such as asthma, diabetes, etc.). Schools should also establish guidelines for athletes with medical alerts to ensure that emergency life-sustaining medications, i.e., bronchial inhaler for asthma and Epi-Pen for anaphylaxis, are readily available and administered properly when needed.
  • Inclement weather guidelines for things like lightning storms and extreme heat, established well in advance of the athletic season, and adhered to by all athletic participants and spectators. Adequate methods for re-hydration should be available in all sports at all times with athlete education on proper hydration provided on regular basis.
  • Coaches who are required to participate in ongoing education and training in coaching techniques, CPR and first aid.
  • Guidelines for the return of athletes to participation following an injury. The school-based athletic health-care provider should be knowledgeable in injury recovery and return-to-competition procedure.
  • Field/facility maintenance plan to ensure that facilities and fields are properly cared for and inspected on a regular schedule and, if repairs are needed, they are performed in a timely manner.
  • Safe, properly fitted equipment, in good repair and inspected on a regular basis, with inspections, repairs and reconditioning documented and damaged equipment discarded and/or rendered harmless.
  • Supervised pre-season, in-season and out-of-season conditioning programs available to all student athletes designed to utilize up-to-date, scientifically sound advice by a person who is educated in the conditioning of the adolescent athlete.

If you have any additional questions regarding safety for student athletes, one of our knowledgeable attorneys at Powell Law will be happy to help you. Since 1906, our PA personal injury lawyers have successfully represented thousands of clients in serious personal injury cases, including PA car accidents, tractor trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, PA medical malpractice, PA worker’s comp, slip and fall, product-related injuries and Social Security disability claims. Our PA criminal defense attorneys represent defendants in all types of summary, misdemeanor and felony cases ranging from drunk driving cases to major crimes in both state and federal courts.

Powell Law is Northeastern Pennsylvania’s oldest PA personal injury law firm. It was established by our grandfather, Attorney James J. Powell Sr., on the principles of honor, integrity and trust. For three generations, we have upheld those principles every day – in every case.

We have offices in Scranton, Stroudsburg, Taylor and Moscow. Call us toll free at 800-290-7707.

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