The Youth Sports Safety Alliance, composed of more than 100 organizations (including MomsTEAM) committed to keeping young athletes safe , has launched the first-ever "National Action Plan for Sports Safety" (NAPSS) to ensure comprehensive action to protect America's student athletes.
The NAPSS was finalized on February 5, 2013 at the 4th annual Youth Sports Safety Summit in Washington, DC convened by the National Athletic Trainers' Association. It urges schools to adopt safety measures to protect student-athletes from injury or illness, which mainly occur in four major areas:
- Cardiac Events;
- Neurologic Injuries;
- Environmental/Exertional Conditions; and
- Dietary/Substance-Induced Conditions
The Plan requires that all schools:
- Have a comprehensive athletic health care program and a health care team.
- Assure safe practice and play facilities that are regularly inspected and cleaned to avoid communicable diseases and accessible to treatment and/or transport facilities.
- Provide an area in which injured athletes may be evaluated and treated and privacy of medical information is assured.
- Have a plan for selection, fit and maintenance of athletic equipment.
- Adopt injury and illness prevention strategies.
- Inform athletes and parents of potential risks in sports as well as individual responsibility.
- Assure that every student athlete has a pre-participation physical examination including cardiac and concussion testing where appropriate, and heart screenings where available.
- Educate coaches, parents and student-athletes in the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest.
- Provide immediately available, properly trained health care professionals.
- Inform parents of the school's emergency policies and procedures.
- Provide automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in locations easily and immediately accessible; assure equipment is properly maintained and regularly inspected.
- Train coaches and athletic officials in CPR and use of AEDs.
- Adopt venue-specific emergency action plans (EAPs) routinely rehearsed with local emergency personnel.
- Require that appropriate medical personnel, such as athletic trainers or physicians educated in the evaluation and management of brain injuries be available at all practices and competitions.
- Require that teachers, school personnel, coaches, parents, student-athletes and athletic officials be trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI/concussion) and cervical spine injuries.
- Require that concussed athletes receive clearance by a medical professional specifically trained in concussion management before returning to physical activity (as is now required in all but a handful of states).
- Require that school personnel and parents are educated on the short- and long-term effects of TBI to support student transition back to full academic participation.
- Make coaches, parents and student athletes aware of the potential problems related to the misuse of nutritional supplements, performance enhancement substances, and energy drinks.
- Make school personnel aware of the psychosocial problems of student athletes (including but not limited to disordered eating, depression, suicide and substance abuse) and assure referral to qualified healthcare professionals as appropriate.
- Use established protocols for heat acclimatization, lightning, poor air quality and other environmental factors
- Require that coaches and athletic officials are trained in recognizing signs and symptoms of exertionally- or environmentally-induced distress in athletes, and that athletes who suffer heat illness be treated according to established guidelines.
Critical next step in sports safety
"Our prior Summits provided the foundation for this National Action Plan - the critical next step that will help keep young athletes on the field and off the sidelines with chronic, catastrophic or fatal conditions," said NATA President Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES. "These conditions can be largely prevented, managed and treated if the right protocols are in place, and properly trained medical personnel including athletic trainers are available to provide immediate care. Only 42 percent of U.S. secondary schools have access to athletic trainers."
A Secondary School Student Athletes' Bill of Rights was also formally released and reinforces the important rights of young athletes when participating in a secondary school sports program. It outlines essential elements that should be recognized by the athletes themselves, along with their parents, school and sports officials and policymakers at all levels.Attendees included select Alliance members as well as: health care professionals; parent advocate groups; education and school administration organizations; health care and sports associations; state and federal policymakers; athletic/activity associations; and sports governing bodies.
Source: National Athletic Trainers' Association
Posted February 6, 2013