During youth sporting events, the sidelines are often crowded with players, coaches and parents cheering on the action. Athletic trainers and sports-certified physical therapists are also an important part of this crowd, often overlooked until they are needed. These healthcare professionals are experienced and qualified in the prevention, recognition, assessment and associated treatment or referral of many acute sports and orthopaedic injuries. Their primary responsibility is advocating for the well-being of the athlete and tending to players when injuries occur.
“Having these professionals present provides the athletes access to immediate quality healthcare should an injury occur,” says Eric Smoyer, a physical therapist and athletic trainer who covers many events. “We also provide injury prevention education to athletes, coaches and parents, and help to keep things in perspective when it comes to the athlete’s health and returning to play.” Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital regularly arranges for these qualified professionals to provide coverage on the sidelines of various professional and youth sports organizations in the Omaha area throughout the year.
As sports become more competitive, especially collision sports like football or lacrosse, having the appropriate healthcare providers on the sidelines can ensure proper safety protocols are carried out, if and when an injury occurs. According to Smoyer, the most common injuries seen on the field are not the career-ending ones we tend to see on television or in professional level sports. More often than not, the players may get the wind knocked out of them or cramp up. However, injuries can be more serious, like bony and soft tissue insults or even concussions. In those cases, athletic trainers and sports-certified physical therapists can assess the extent of the injury and recommend if the athlete should return to play.
One of the most important aspects of the athletic trainers and physical therapists is to educate players, their parents and the coaching staff on injury prevention. Raising awareness of common injuries and how to avoid them can provide the opportunity for honest discussion between players and coaches. “We are seeing more athletes who are learning to place greater value into their long-term health through this education,” states Smoyer. “That long-term thinking is possibly one of the most important realizations for those who aspire to become successful career athletes.”
To learn more about the sports medicine rehabilitation at Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital, please contact the Physical and Occupational Therapy Department by calling (402) 609-1750 or visit www.neorthohospital.com/our-services/physical-therapy. To inquire about Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital providing coverage for a club or team sport, contact our Sports Medicine Hotline at (402) 609-2800.