Immediate Removal of Safety Gear After Injury? Experts Say Yes

Injuries on the field? A new standard by the National Athletic Trainers' Association is advising athletic trainers to immediately remove safety equipment such as helmets and shoulder pads when players have been injuried and a spinal cord injury is suspected. 

While adherence to the new standard is voluntary, NATA cites advances in safety equipment as one reason for the revised protocol. Another is the fact that athletic trainers are likely better equipped to handle removing safety gear than emergency room physicians. 

The new standard also advises that a minimum of three trained rescuers work together to remove safety gear. Professional and collegiate sports leagues should be able to meet this requirement without any problem; in high schools with more limited resources and staff, it's advisable for coaches to also train to become part of the medical team.

NATA also announced a $2 million expansion of a program with the National Football League to help increase the number of athletic trainers in high schools, including in cities with an NFL team. 

A national medical group that represents athletic trainers is calling for more rigorous standards to treat sports-related spine injuries, including the immediate removal of helmets, shoulder pads and other equipment before a patient goes to the hospital.

A treatment protocol last revised in 1998 recommends that equipment worn by athletes with potential spinal cord injuries not be removed on the field or in the locker room. Advances in safety equipment technology are among the reasons cited by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association in its updated policy.

This article excerpt, by Alan Scher Zagier, originally appeared here: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/24/athletic-trainers-endorse-new-standards-for-spine-/#ixzz3edv2ufFL 


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