Student athletic safety

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Local youth athletes are celebrating the recent collaborative effort between Parkview Sports Medicine, the National Football League (NFL) Foundation and Catie B. Charities, to provide all Fort Wayne Community School (FWCS) athletes with new and/or refurbished equipment and jerseys. The initiative was first forged with Parkview Sports Medicine and the school system after a 2014 professional assessment of all middle school’s athletic equipment. Russ Isaacs, a recently retired FWCS athletic director and longtime football coach, found equipment at many schools was past its expected useful life. These items were immediately discarded, leaving a need for replacement pieces. 

Isaacs approached Parkview Sports Medicine for assistance, which resulted in a commitment of $1,000 annually for all FWCS middle schools to upgrade athletic equipment over the next five years. “While Parkview Sports Medicine may be best known for treating sports-related injuries, we work to prevent injuries in the first place,” said Julie Fleck, COO, Parkview Orthopedic Hospital.  “Each athlete should experience everything athletic programming has to offer and that includes correct equipment that promotes safety and prevents injury.”

Former NFL specialist and Wayne High School graduate Jason Baker worked to secure additional funding and matching gifts through his nonprofit, Catie B. Charities. As a result, a total gift of more than $170,000 was committed to all FWCS middle schools and expanded to include the high school athletic programs, as well. Those schools without a football program have been allocated funds for their existing athletic programs.  

“Providing youth throughout the district safe sporting equipment for all sports programming, not just football, should be celebrated,” Baker said.  “But this is not the end of the game, it is an initial step.” 

While the equipment overhaul is a major victory, it is only one component of the ongoing collaboration. Grant money facilitated by Catie B. Charities has already been, and will continue to be, used to provide safety training and leadership development programs for coaches and athletes. Already, at least one coach or administrator from each FWCS middle and high school participated in the NFL’s “Heads Up” training program to promote safety.

“It is my hope that this gives the district some short term budget relief and allows them ample time to develop a self-sustaining model that will allow for maximum participation in our athletic programs,” Baker said. “There are lessons and skills learned on the field and the court and are not taught anywhere else and will continue to serve our young people and our community the rest of their lives.”   

For those athletes who do experience a sports-related injury, there are some quick, helpful steps parents and trainers can take to minimize the discomfort and permanent damage.

“The first 24-48 hours after an injury are crucial moments in the healing process, Certified Athletic Trainer Anne Laborde said.  “In order to allow for the most efficient recovery time, follow these 4 guidelines. “

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Following an injury, it’s best to give the body a chance to heal. This does not mean that one should refrain from moving the body part completely. When moving an injury, it is important to note that there will be discomfort, and that’s OK. But it shouldn’t be painful. Pain is the body’s way of helping it protect itself from further injury. If it’s painful, don’t do it.

An ice pack should be applied to the injured area for 15-20 minutes, but no more.  Icing longer than recommended could damage nerves on the surface of the skin.  Icing serves two purposes: 1) It helps reduce the swelling in the area, which if not lessened, could prolong the healing process, and 2) Ice will help numb the initial pain from the injury, giving the body part a chance to rest.

Immediately following an injury, the area will begin to swell. Swelling increases pain and makes it difficult to move the injured body part, therefore, prolonging recovery.  Apply an ACE bandage to compress the area.  When wrapping, start from the part furthest from the trunk and wrap toward the midsection (e.g. if wrapping an ankle, start in the foot and end the wrap on the lower leg). This pushes the swelling out of the area.  An ACE bandage should not cut off circulation and the area should not go numb or turn colors. If this occurs, rewrap the area.

The body part should be raised above the heart.  If that is not feasible, then the area should be propped up as best as possible to allow gravity to aid in the removal of swelling from the area.

If the injury worsens or persists, report the issue to the Athletic Trainer immediately, or seek emergency attention if necessary. 

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