Oklahoma State Launches Unique Athletic Training Program

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In collaboration with the Oklahoma State University Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute (HPNRI), OSU Center for Health Sciences launched an Athletic Training - Sports Medicine Project ECHO line Wednesday.

“This new ECHO line, developed in partnership with OSU’s Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute, will allow us to support health providers caring for student-athletes across the state,” said Dr. Johnny Stephens, OSU-CHS president. “More than half of the counties in Oklahoma have zero athletic trainers or sports medicine professionals to aid in the health and well-being of our young athletes. 

“The goal is to share knowledge specific to treating student-athletes in order to reduce injury and keep them active and healthy. We are grateful to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) for providing $4.5 million in funding to OSU-CHS to expand Project ECHO’s lines of care to support more health providers and physicians across the state with the goal of improving health outcomes, particularly in rural areas of Oklahoma.”

Project ECHO provides access to specialty care for complex health conditions, especially in rural and underserved communities where specialists are fewer in number and more difficult to access. Project ECHO brings best-practice health care to patients who normally wouldn’t receive it because of where they live. Instead of moving people, Project ECHO uses a hub-and-spoke telementoring model to move knowledge, so local primary care providers can access expertise to provide high-quality, specialized care to patients in their communities. 

The new ECHO line — the first ever to focus on athletic training — will reach athletic trainers and sports medicine providers at schools across the state to give them access to a multidisciplinary team of athletic training, sports medicine, counseling and nutrition experts in a virtual mentoring and educational network through Project ECHO.

The Athletic Training - Sports Medicine ECHO will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Anyone providing care to student-athletes is invited to participate in the new ECHO, including: athletic trainers, athletic directors, coaches, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical therapists, rural physicians and school administrators. 

Participants will learn about the best practices in the identification, reduction and treatment of sports-related injuries to keep student-athletes active, healthy and expedite return to play. In addition, participants will learn about policy implementation and management strategies to improve outcomes, sustainability and quality of life across Oklahoma. Participants are encouraged to submit cases to the ECHO team of specialists who will review the case and provide feedback, best practices and educational resources which can be implemented to improve care for student-athletes. Athletic trainers will have the opportunity to earn continuing education credit, as well.

Executive director Lance Walker leads HPNRI. A licensed physical therapist and an internationally recognized expert in fusing sports performance, sports science and sports medicine, Walker has seen significant shifts in the industry over the last 30 years. 

Walker said the new ECHO line — the first of three new ECHO lines HPNRI plans to launch — will provide the kind of practical and research-supported solutions that will make a difference for athletic trainers, sports medicine professionals and the people they serve. 

“That’s what HPNRI is all about — helping Oklahomans live better lives through a performance mindset. We do that by making connections, providing resources and operating as thought leaders on the cutting edge of the industry,” he said. 

“Early in my career, it felt like there were times I was on an island. Getting this level of access to expert guidance from the academic community is a game changer for athletic trainers, regardless of their experience level. This is not a simple profession. Human health is complicated, and athletics presents unique challenges. Project ECHO is going to deliver convenient access to experts, putting the latest, research driven information and tactics into the hands of those who need it regardless if they’re in a metropolitan area or in a rural corner of the state.”

Learn more, or sign up to register for future Project ECHO sessions by visiting https://okla.st/athletictrainingECHO.

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