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Week: 529.3 Guest: Dr. John Powell, Ph.D. Health Ed. & Epidemiology/ Researcher, Natl. Athletic Trainers Assoc. Topic: High School Athletic Injuries Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: The National Athletic Trainers Association represents certified athletic trainers around the country, working in the area of injury prevention in high schools, colleges and at the professional level. John Powell, Ph.D. in Health Education and Epidemiology is directing a three year study of high school sports injuries. John, this study is long term and wide ranging...and the first figures in are from football....

POWELL: One of the frustrating parts we found was that we didn't really have accurate, clear descriptions of what the injury patterns were in specific sports. So, we have made a more detailed approach than some of our earlier programs to look at the injury patterns in high school football, but also nine other sports, to include boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, wrestling and field hockey. Many of the sports, such as soccer and field hockey and volleyball, have never been studied on that large a scale... and we anticipate having anywhere from one hundred to one hundred fifty teams participating in each sport.

NEMA: John, about 39% of high school football players get injured..but it looks like nearly six percent fewer moderate injuries, and three percent fewer major injuries...

POWELL: I think one of the most encouraging parts of what we found this year was the tendency toward our, at least by our definition of moderate and major injuries...seems to be a lower proportion now than it was in the mid-eighties when we did the studies before. We also noted that the number of the proportion of re-injuries... seems to be down at this point in time. We are cautiously watching and encouraged by those because sometimes things vary from a year to year basis, it may prove to be different in the next two years. If we find that those two years do show a continued downtrend, that actually through maybe some programs, intervention and technology, there may be an impact on the reduction of injuries....and a reduction of the severity of the injuries.

NEMA: Is there a by product of the efforts to reduce the number of injuries and lessen their severity and recovery time?

POWELL: I think one of the encouraging parts in the reduction might be the awareness that programs have created, and coaching awareness, parental awareness, and specifically because of the increase in the number of athletic trainers that are out there, in early recognition, and that's the ability to identify a minor injury or a small injury, maybe on Monday, in order to prevent it and intervene on it so that it does not become a more major injury on Friday at the game. I would hope that some of the studies that we're working on now would hope to also make parents aware that there are injuries associated with other sports and those kinds of sports need the kind of professional , early recognition and intervention in order to be able to effect the same kinds of reductions.

NEMA: John, what can high schools do to improve the safety and quality of student sports participation and the programs in general?

POWELL: In football, for example, over 60% of the injuries occur under practice related conditions, and a lot of schools will hire the certified athletic trainer or the doctor or the EMT to come to the game, to provide health care facilities for the game....if they're only at the game, then really 60% of the injuries that are occurring, have no professional intervention available to them on a day to day basis. And that's where I think the 2500 schools with a full time athletic trainer have taken a step forward.

NEMA: John Powell of the National Athletic Trainers Association. I'm Steve Girard.

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