Area athletic trainers play crucial behind-the-scenes role

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Friday night football is one of the area’s most popular pastimes. Behind the scenes, dozens of athletic trainers play a crucial

role in caring for the area’s high school heroes.

Orthopedic specialist Dr. Geoffrey Collins, a team physician for the McNeese State University athletic department, works with

the Center for Orthopaedics team of trainers, which helps provide care to athletes at more than a dozen area high schools.

Collins said the trainers work closely with school officials to develop and maintain care schedules for injured athletes.

“Our trainers are assigned to a different area so that the coaches, principal and everyone has a relationship with them,”

he said.

“Each of our trainers will have three

or four schools. They will go there multiple times during a week. If

kids are getting

treatments, they will check on them and discuss with coaches

whether they will be ready for Friday. On Friday nights we will

have a trainer at each game. At our home games, we will have an

orthopedic surgeon at almost every game. The general understanding

in high schools is that the home team will provide the health

care, the trainer, the ambulance and all that. On those nights,

the trainers are well-trained and effective in taking care of the

kids. We are there for a couple of reasons. We are there

to decide on when to return to play.”

During school visits, trainers give treatment prescribed by doctors and conduct tests to determine how therapy is progressing.

“They will have a list of kids they are

treating and a designated time to come and treat them,” said Collins.

“They can give

them ice, electrical stimulation or other treatments. We work on

the swelling, then we work on their motion, get them running

straight line, then get them doing agility drills. Then we protect

them by bracing them and letting them return to play.”

On Friday nights, the trainers tend to minor injuries and help get treatment of major injuries started.

“If it is a minor injury, we can get them started — we can get them into the Saturday morning clinic, get them treatment with

the physical therapist and expedite their treatment so that there is no delay,” said Collins.

“That is something we learned to be

very effective when we take care of McNeese. We hop on the kids, control

the swelling

so that they don’t have to deal with that on the back end. It can

really expedite their return to play. On the major injuries,

we are on the phone right away, telling the hospital there is

someone coming in on a spine board, or we need an ambulance

or helicopter, here is what we think is going on, so there is no

kind of delay. We can get them into a CAT scan if they need

it, X-rays or whatever they need.”

The trainers follow a state-mandated protocol when concussions are suspected.

“Fortunately for everybody, the LHSAA

has been extremely effective in establishing guideline rules on the hot

topic of concussions,”

Collins said.

“They have taken a lot of heat off our

backs and made it crystal clear. Those rules indicate that anyone from a

parent, coach,

referee or doctor can identify the signs or symptoms of a

concussion. All of the doctors and trainers are. If anyone is diagnosed

with signs of a concussion, they are out of play for the rest of

that day. We have a concussion expert, Dr. Errol Wilder,

that works with us. He is excellent, he has done extensive

additional training on the return-to-play protocol.”

Collins said he and his team are working to make it easier for coaches to follow the progress of their athletes.

“We have a system called the Coaches Portal, a secure, Web-based system where a coach can log into the system and access their

kids,” he said.

“When we see a player, it will populate

the impression, show the grade of the sprain, see the plan and the

progress through

physical therapy. They can look at that and read it. A lot of

times, coaches just wait for a parent to tell them the kid can

play. We are trying to give them the same kind of system they have

at McNeese so that they are more involved and know who

will be available to them. We have it for all McNeese sports and

some high schools.”