A new study released by the National Athletic Trainers Association shows that private secondary schools are falling well behind public schools in providing adequate athletic training services to meet the needs of student-athletes.
The survey was conducted by researchers from the kinesiology department at the University of Connecticut, funded in part by NATA. Athletic directors and principals from 8,509 public secondary schools and 2,044 private schools were surveyed between Sept. 2011 and June 2014.
The data collected showed that only 58 percent of private secondary schools provided any kind of athletic training services, compared to 70 percent of public schools.
Of the schools that offered athletic training services, 37 percent of public schools employed a full-time trainer, compared to 28 percent of private schools. The numbers for schools providing AT services every day in the afternoon were closer, with private schools weighing in at 40 percent and public schools at 48 percent.
NATA strongly recommends keeping a full-time AT on staff in order to meet the health-care needs of student-athletes. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practices, where athletes are engaging in more repetitive activity and at an increased risk of fatigue.
The study’s lead author Alicia Pike, MS, ATC, associate director of research in the kinesiology department at the University of Connecticut, wrote, “Despite the documented benefits of having an AT on site for both practices and games, many schools, public and private, do not provide this critical medical service to their students.”
Researchers listed a variety of obstacles that may be preventing schools from providing optimal AT services, including a lack of funding, particularly in smaller schools; a lack of awareness on the part of administrators who may not appreciate the need for a qualified health professional; and, in some cases location, as some rural schools may find it difficult to recruit the help they need.
Reaching out to administrators who may have the power to hire a full-time AT, Pike offers this advice:
1. Understand and believe in the role and value of an athletic trainer as a health care professional,
2. Recognize the need for an athletic trainer at the school and
3. Formulate and execute a plan, including strategies to overcome any foreseen barriers to hiring an AT.
“We hope the results of our findings will generate education and awareness among athletic directors, school administrators and others in decision-making roles,” she said.
Read the full press release: Study Shows Private Secondary Schools Offer Fewer Athletic Training Services