Visiting trainer helps prevent and treat sports injuries
By Michael Turton
Sports related injuries are inevitable, but the Haldane Central School District has taken a step to help reduce the number of injuries and to treat those that happen quickly – sometimes right on campus. In mid-March, Shane Osgood, a certified athletic trainer, began making weekly visits to the school to work with coaches and athletes. The program is offered free of charge by Orthopedic Associates of Dutchess County (OADC). Superintendent Mark Villanti had taken advantage of the program when he worked at a school district in Dutchess County. He contacted OADC and asked them to add Haldane to the list of participating schools.
Athletic Director Tom Cunningham is keen on the program, having come from Somers School District where one full-time position was divided between providing athletic trainer services and teaching physical education. He thinks having a trainer visit Haldane is a step in the right direction. “It’s a process – and it will take the kids some time to get used to it,” Cunningham said. “One of the keys is for student athletes to become more open about nagging injuries and to let their coaches know about them.” Student injuries “run the gamut” according to Osgood and range from acute to chronic to over use. He said that over-use injuries are common in track, while lacrosse is more apt to produce acute injuries because it is a very physical contact sport. Baseball, he said, can produce a variety of injury types.
When Osgood first arrived at Haldane he met with teams individually and explained his role and what he would be offering. “In high school it’s all about communications, especially with coaches – about their strategies and strengthening programs for athletes,” Osgood said. In his initial communications with coaches Osgood said that his primary goal “is to help the team succeed by keeping the athlete healthy and on the field of play.” He encouraged coaches to contact him regarding injury prevention programs, proper taping and wrapping techniques, and stretching/strengthening/conditioning programs. Jeff Sniffen, a teacher and football coach at Haldane, likes the idea of having a trainer on campus regularly. “It’s about having an extra set of professional eyes and hands in evaluating an injury. It helps us as coaches – we’re not doctors” he said.
Osgood said he prefers to prevent injuries rather than treat them and that his background working in industry has helped cultivate that outlook. Before dealing with schools he worked proactively with employees in a large airplane factory to prevent injuries that can result from lifting – a common job requirement there. He uses a triage method in assessing injuries. “If it’s urgent enough I recommend treatment to the parents and coaches.” Osgood was emphatic that he is not a referral service to OACC or other doctors. The decision as to where a student athlete is to be treated for more serious injuries rests with parents he said.
Telling athletes to sit out for a while or even to limit physical activity is always an option when dealing with injuries, but it is advice that doesn’t always sit well with the student athlete on the receiving end of the recommendation. “Telling someone not to play or to take a rest can be tough on athletes who see practicing hard as the way to win. That’s why communication with coaches is key,” Osgood said. When it comes to the injuries experienced by male and female student athletes Osgood sees little difference. “It’s more about the sport itself,” he said. “There are some conflicting studies regarding girls being more prone to injuries as [the amount of] contact increases.” He seemed to feel that the jury is still out on that conclusion.
Osgood will be on campus at Haldane one day per week this spring. In the fall that will increase to twice a week. OADC also offers an injury hotline for fast-tracked scheduling when needed. Photos by M. Turton
Athletic Training is an allied health care profession recognized by the American Medical Association and regulated by the National Athletic Trainers Association Board of Certification. In addition, all Certified Athletic Trainers are required to be licensed by the New York State Board of Education in order to practice in the state. Athletic trainers hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and once certified work under the direction of a physician.