Beyond The Score

Central Vermont Sports Blog

Injuries: When is it OK to play?

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Kreitzberg Arena in Northfield Vermont

My first coaching assignment was in 1967 as a downhill, jumping and cross-country ski coach for girls and boys at Community High in Fort Kent Maine. I was fresh out of college and other than being a college athlete and certified teacher, I knew nothing about coaching. I read books, went to clinics and coached at camps for years and the biggest problem I had as a coach was knowing when a player was ready to get back to competing. Years later I still felt I didn’t know enough about injuries.

In 1984 I decided to take a sabbatical and learn all I could about athletic training, injury prevention and management. I spent the summer at Montclair State in New Jersey with their athletic trainers and in the classroom learning modalities, prevention and taping techniques. I spent the winter as an intern or volunteer at Green Mountain Physical Therapy where I was a goofer but had the opportunity to pick some incredible trainers brains. They helped me create a plan for helping players with injuries. What I learned most was what NOT to do when it comes to treating an injury. I also learn what to do if a player wants to return to play.

This is a long winded way of getting to the point but for over 30 years I’ve advocated for a trainer at Montpelier High. I have never found an Athletic Director, Principal or School Board member in Montpelier that has showed any support for this position.

Saturday a Montpelier girls basketball player returned to competitive play after breaking a bone in her leg during a soccer game a few weeks earlier. She spent weeks on crutches and met with her doctor plus doing some therapy. Saturday she played for a few minutes in a scrimmage against Twinfield and reinjuried her leg after a couple minutes of play.

At what point are athletes allowed to compete after and injury? Who decides? Obviously it’s up to the coach but how does he/she make that decision?

Ask the player? Ask the parents? Get a note from the doctor? Is there a policy in place to guide coaches making those decisions?

Regardless of how the coach makes the decision, it is rarely made with true knowledge about injuries. It’s rare that a coach has the expertise in atheltic training. I’ve watched coaches wrap ankles, knees, wrists etc. and violate every rule of protective modality. I see players taping players.

At Montpelier High players are put in situations that the personnel dealing with their injuries lack the knowledge to help or prevent further injury regardless of intentions. It happens time and again. Players return to competition too early.

MHS needs to hire an athletic trainer to not only assit coaches with injuries but help players learn how to train to prevent injury. Athletic Trainers can be an integral part of the curriculm by teaching courses on nutrition and fitness as well as attending contests and assisting injuried players. Spaulding, Harwood and U32 all have full time athletic trainers. They make a huge difference in players health and safety!

Some comments from decision makers at MHS about hiring a trainer:

We have fireman at football games. Why do we need a trainer?
Kids have insurance!
It’s up to the parents to let their kid play after an injury.

Do you think we need a athletic trainer at MHS?



Written by Roger

December 5, 2010 at 9:04 PM

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