Athletes V Athletic Trainers

For the past four years, I have attended a high school in Montgomery County, Maryland. There, I played lacrosse and basketball. The sports teams at my school are collectively very competitive not only in our conference, but at a national level as well. With that being said, athletes in general would obviously prefer not to sit out during any part of the season due to medical reasons. But, at my high school, injury is not what most athletes fear. Ironically, it is the training staff that most athletes are afraid to consult. The trainers at my school have a reputation for prolonging the amount of time in which athletes are not allowed to play- especially when there is a concussion at hand.

So, I decided to ask: do doctors over-diagnose injuries among high school athletes?

Before I continue, I will say that obviously, there are extreme cases where athletes need serious recovery time, or even need to stop playing their sport all together. For example, one of my friends from middle school suffered 6 concussions over the course of 5 years, and he is no longer allowed to participate in any contact sport. In addition to this, it is also important to note that obviously all athletic trainers should and usually do have the athlete’s health and safety in mind when diagnosing injuries.

To first address this question, I did a bit of research on how age and brain development may effect recovery time. Bentz & Purzycki (2008) explain that younger athletes, and high school athletes in particular, are more susceptible to longer recovery periods after concussions. This is due to the fact that the brains of younger athletes are not as developed as the brains of college or professional athletes, which makes the younger athletes more vulnerable to more extreme brain damaging. The chart below shows the difference in recovery time between high school and college athletes.

 

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With that knowledge, it’s also notable to touch on the presence of pressure put on physicians and trainers to get athletes back on the field as soon as possible. This Amednews article (2010) acknowledges that pressure, explaining how physicians and team trainers are pressured at all levels to clear players from injury before they are ready to play again. Because of this, the article explains, certain states have decided to crack down on concussion law. They propose things like increased teaching of concussion risk and legitimate doctor approval before being cleared to resume activity. If passed, these laws could help protect athletes and potentially save lives in the long run.

According to Joseph Nordqvist (2015), athletes who suffer concussions during their athletic careers are still affected by the incident months later, whether they realize it or not. In addition to that, older players who suffered concussions earlier in their lives are also likely to feel the effects, showing symptoms that mirror both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The article ends by clearly stating that athletes who suffer multiple concussions after prematurely returning to sport before adequate recovery are much more vulnerable to more severe brain damage in the long run.

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To conclude, I would say that students at my old high school, including myself, should have probably trusted our athletic trainers more than we actually did. Brain damage and injury is a very serious matter, and it seems that any degree of concussion can be somewhat dangerous. Athletic trainers have the athlete’s best interest in mind, and high school athletes should trust them.

 

The first image came from HERE.

The second image came from HERE.

3 thoughts on “Athletes V Athletic Trainers

  1. Griffin Lambert Brooks

    Patrick, I enjoyed reading your blog I found what you had to say very interesting and relatable. I played 3 sports in high school and felt the same way about my trainers. I sometimes wondered why we even had them because not only would they over-diagnose or sometimes miss-diagnose, half the time they never showed up to games or other events. I remember breaking my ankle sophomore year playing basketball and I don’t know too much about medical diagnosis but knew that if you hurt your ankle you’re not supposed to take you shoe off. She took mine off! I personally think that trainers are useless in high school sports. Here is an article I found that shows the statistics and locations on the body where high school athletes get injured the most.

  2. Olivia Mei Zhang

    I don’t have substantial knowledge about athletic injuries or necessary recovery times, but reading your post did give me insight about the matter. I also agree with your conclusion; at the end of the day, the best thing to do is trust the professionals-after all, that’s their job! Athletes who receive multiple concussions or injuries within a short period of time should NOT be allowed to participate in any contact activity, regardless of the severity of the injury. The 2015 study you described in your post is interesting, it’s important to know that injuries can definitely bounce back in the future, with further repercussions. I wonder if there’s any correlation between one injury causing further injury or internal damage in the future. Perhaps it all depends on the injury itself. Great post!

  3. Matthew O'Brien

    I tend to agree with your conclusion that it is smart to listen to professionals and to heir on the side of caution with regards to sports related injuries. This post made me think about the recent developments in professional football related to the enormously high rates of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) being discovered in the brains of former players. This issue has had the NFL engaged in a relentless PR battle that finally culminated in their admission to the link between football and brain disease this year. Concussions seem minor compared to the long term degenerative affects of this common disease- and improvements in helmet technology are expected to fall short of its goal of brain protection. This article echoes beliefs that these brutal sports injuries can one day lead to the NFL’s demise.

    All in all, I was very interested in your post and think that it is a topic worth researching further.

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