The phrase "injury tracking" has been buzzing around the internet for a while now - in relation to concussions, bone fractures, and many other student athlete injuries. Why? Because athletic trainers and coaches want to provide better care for their athletes, which includes improving the way athletics staff monitor and track injuries. Now think about this: If a trainer or coach wants to improve how he or she is tracking injuries and monitoring athlete recovery, wouldn't it make sense to involve nurses and teachers in the process, too? The answer is absolutely.
We've worked with many nurses and health directors to enhance their school health centers and student care, and one of the most common pieces of feedback is the importance of involving multiple school departments in student health. This means health staff, athletics staff, and teachers all matter to a student's health and well being. But what does this mean for injury tracking? And how does a school facilitate this type of integrated care?
Quite simply, it means that sports injury tracking doesn't start and end with athletic trainers and coaches, nor should it. Using traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) as an example, if a student athlete suffers a TBI, some of the most important factors of recovery are integrated care and communication - meaning that when the athletic trainer and school nurse team up, the recovery process is more powerful.
For example, if a school nurse sees a student athlete who is complaining of a headache or chest pain, athletic trainers should be able to access this pertinent information. The symptoms may be a result of an injury the athlete suffered during the previous night's practice, and it could also point to a more serious injury. Either way, athletic trainers should know if an injured athlete has any further symptoms.
On the flip side, having access to injury tracking is important for teachers, too. Picture a student who is attending class and having difficulty learning. This difficulty may be a direct result of a brain injury, and the student could be too shy to talk to his or her teacher. If a teacher has access to select injury tracking information, they can make preparations and help the student feel at ease.
But the benefits of inter-departmental communication of sports injuries go beyond an individual athlete. By documenting each athletic trainer visit or school nurse visit, schools can gain valuable insight about injury trends. Then, athletic trainers can use this information to develop enhanched injury prevention techniques.
Now here's the best part: Involving multiple departments is easier than you think. And with SMR, it's even more simple. School nurses, athletic trainers, substitue trainers, and even teachers can all have varying levels of access to student healh information - including injury tracking information.
With this level of involvement from each department, athletic trainers have the ability to inform teachers, coordinate with nurses, and provide improved student injury care.
To learn more about how communicating student health and injury information can improve the level of student care, view our complimentary research paper on the subject.