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Athleticare Sports Health Foundation Seeks to Make Youth Sports Safer for All

Source: Athleticare Sports Health Foundation

ST. LOUIS, MO (April 15, 2015) — New St. Louis nonprofit Athleticare Sports Health Foundation opened its doors in February 2015 in Creve Coeur, Missouri and is already providing athletic training support for student athletes at Riverview Gardens and University City high schools both in St. Louis County, Missouri. The nonprofit organization's goal is to make sports safer for high school students at underserved schools by providing affordable access to certified athletic trainers. 

Part of Athleticare Sports Health Foundation's mission is to build safer sports programs by connecting underserved schools with access to sports through athletic trainers and sports medicine services. Athletic Training Fellowships provided in partnership with universities will allow Athleticare to recruit athletic trainers to work with the schools to help provide emergency medical care, teach injury prevention techniques and assist with injury rehabilitation, as an integral part of the school’s athletic staff. 

Dr. Ronald Wagner, founder and executive director of Athleticare, credits his high school athletic trainer for much of his success, and wants other students to have the same chance.

“Growing up as a student athlete in the St. Louis Public School System, I played sports without access to a certified athletic trainer or other medical professional that specialized in sports medicine, said Wagner. “It wasn't until I became a part of the SLPS desegregation program and transferred school to Webster Groves High School, that I was able to benefit from the guidance and support of an athletic trainer. It is thanks to my high school athletic trainer, Mr. Dale Watson, that I was able to overcome a serious running injury, and to go on to attend Southeast Missouri State University on an track and field scholarship.”

Athletic trainers often work with their athletes on a daily basis and those relationships have been shown to increase athlete trust levels, resulting in the disclosure of more concussions and injury reports by athletes who haven’t been comfortable disclosing that information to their coaches or parents in the past.

While concussions make headlines, experts say that other injuries are on the rise as well, with chronic sports injuries having increased five to seven times since 2000. The CDC reports that more than 2.6 million youth under the age of 19 are treated in emergency rooms each year for sports related injuries — many of them preventable. 

A 2012 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that having an athletic trainer as a part of a school’s athletic program makes school sports safer:

  • Schools without an athletic trainer reported 1.2-1.7 times the number of injuries.
  • Schools without an athletic trainer reported 3-5 times higher rates of preventable recurring issues, because injuries weren’t effectively braced, taped or modified at the time of injury.
  • Concussion injury rates were more than 4.5 times higher in schools without staff athletic trainers.

When budgets are stretched thin, many schools opt to cut athletic program support, resulting in reduced athlete performance and higher injury rates. 

“Our goal is to ensure that schools that are underserved in this area are provided every opportunity to have an athletic trainer on staff,” said Wagner. “At Athleticare, we want to see a certified athletic trainer in place at every school in the country.”

Fellows selected for the program will receive benefits including paid tuition and a stipend, while allowing those students to gain clinical experience in the field when they are placed at schools in need of athletic trainer support and structured clinical experiences with team physicians and other clinicians. 

Athleticare has also launched a job board to help facilitate pairing high schools with athletic trainers. The organization is looking for underserved schools seeking athletic trainer support — and for certified athletic trainers pursuing their Master’s degrees who would fill the need for these schools as part of their fellowship program. 

Certified athletic trainers looking for fellowship opportunities are encouraged to visit Athleticare’s Career Center to review openings and opportunities. Schools seeking athletic support staff are asked to contact Athleticare at http://athleti.care or call (314) 596-2656 for assistance in filling the need.

About Athleticare Sports Health Foundation
Athleticare Sports Health Foundation is working to make sports safer for everyone by placing certified athletic trainers in underserved schools in need of athletic trainer support. A member of the Youth Sports Safety Alliance and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Learn more about Athleticare Sports Health Foundation at http://athleti.care.

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