Advocates of high school sports share a common concern for the safety of student athletes. Many states are re-examining ways to limit risk, as reports show an increase in concussions and catastrophic events in high schools.
California, however, is the only state that does not regulate athletic trainers, the front-line professionals who are responsible for preventing and treating injuries. As it is, anyone – regardless of education or certification – can be hired to act as an athletic trainer and provide treatment.
I am a sports medicine physician who has been practicing for more than 30 years. My goal and that of my profession is to ensure the health and safety of young athletes. A qualified athletic trainer overseeing and coordinating youth sports is key in meeting that goal.
Athletic trainers provide event and practice care, and work with school officials and coaches to ensure safety procedures are implemented. An athletic trainer is the expert to whom athletes, parents and coaches turn when questions arise.
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The California Interscholastic Federation estimates that more than 45 percent of high schools in the state don’t have athletic trainers. Many people who serve as trainers are not qualified.
Assembly Bill 1510, by Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D-Woodland Hills, would require individuals to be certified by the Board of Certification before they can call themselves athletic trainers. The bill would define the scope of practice for the profession that is consistent with 49 other states.
If lawmakers approve it, the California Interscholastic Federation could mandate policies to help ensure athlete safety. AB 1510 has the support of virtually every sports medicine society in the nation. The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, CIF, the National Federation of State High School Associations and the NCAA support this bill.
If you are a coach, a parent, a teacher, an administrator, a health care professional, please speak with your legislator and urge him or her to support AB 1510. The health and safety of young athletes is at stake.
Dr. Jeffrey Tanji, is a sports medicine physician at the University of California Davis Medical Center, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.