The Los Angeles Rams organization is aiding the legislative push to make athletic trainers more common in California, where nearly half of the state's 800,000 high school student-athletes don't have access to such health care professionals.
As reported by theRams.com staff reporter Stu Jackson, nearly 300 sport-related high school catastrophic injuries and more than 80 sport-related high school deaths have occurred in the past five years, with 90 percent of these deaths occurring due to cardiac arrest, heat/neck injuries, exertional heat stroke and exertional sickling. States only mandate an average of 54 percent of the policies proven to reduce these deaths, led by Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire, which require an average of 79 percent.
Related: Why California Needs to License and Regulate Athletic Trainers
In contrast, California currently mandates only 31 percent of those policies despite seeing 34 high school athletes die and 92 sustain catastrophic sports-related injuries from 2005-2020. Of those deaths, 88 percent were due to three injuries: Cardiac (69 percent), head/neck (13 percent) and heat stroke (6 percent).
California is also the only state in the entire country that does not regulate athletic trainers.
AB 796 would establish the California Board of Athletic Training within the Department of Consumer Affairs to exercise licensing, regulatory, and disciplinary functions under the act. It would also prohibit a person from practicing as an athletic trainer or using certain titles or terms without being licensed by the board.
"I think it's important because our youth is important," Rams head athletic trainer Reggie Scott told theRams.com Thursday after speaking at the second Team Up for Sports Safety Forum. "That's what creates and unites the action. But I think other the good thing about it, too, is that it's very preventable. This is something that we can fix with the proper healthcare professionals and proper licenses and regulations."
As reported by Jackson, the Team Up for Sports Safety Forum is planned and hosted by the Korey Stringer Institute in conjunction with the California Athletic Trainers' Association, the National Athletic Trainers' Association and National Football League.
Nearly 48 percent of California's high schools — representing a student-athlete population of 191.626, or more than a quarter of all student-athletes in the state — don't employ an athletic trainer.Moreover, eight percent of student-athletes participate at a school that employs an unqualified health personnel as an athletic trainer.
CATA estimates that about 20 percent of people employed as athletic trainers in California high schools have not graduated from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education or have not passed a national certification exam.
"I think [preventability] is number one, because once you can get licensures and we get respected as an allied healthcare professional, then hopefully, eventually, it gets to where we start mandating these new athletic trainers at every secondary high school," Scott said. "Like we talked about, 800,000 student athletes, 56 percent have [access to] athletic trainers, and how many are not certified athletic trainers? That's an issue. So I think once we get the licensure, the next step then is to really start regulating and mandate to try to make sure there's no youth sports that go on that don't have the proper medical coverage."