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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Risk Management the Coach's Responsibility

Many coaches find it difficult to come up with a complete risk management plan for their team.  For some it may be that they don't understand the importance of one or not feel it is their responsibility, for others it is not knowing where to start or what all comprises of a complete plan.  As a coach you are the decision maker for your team, you need to make safety and risk management a priority as it can be the difference between success and failure or life and death. 

Risk management is an ongoing process that must begin prior to the season beginning and does not end until after the season is over. 

So what all does a coach need to do? We will discuss the basics of a risk management program for sport teams. 

Emergency Action Plan (EAP) - the EAP is designed to make sure all the proper steps are taken when an injury occurs and that specific people have a designated roles/jobs so that all are prepared.  Basic EAPs consist of 3 roles, the charge person who is attending to the injured athlete, the call person who contacts EMS and the control person who maintains order among the crowd, opposing team and liaises with the facility.  

Have First Aid and CPR - it is all great that you have an EAP but if you don't have basic injury management skills such as first aid and CPR, what are you going to do if something occurs?  You can not rely on always having a trainer, athletic therapist on your staff or that each year you will have parents who are doctors, nurses or paramedics.  These are added bonuses not sure things.  

Take an Injury Management Seminar - First aid and CPR only get you so far in the world of sports.  You need to understand the types of injuries that will occur in sports and how to apply the knowledge you gained in first aid and CPR to those situations.  A good seminar will not only discuss sports injuries but go in-depth on risk management, injury prevention and return to activity. 

Carry a First Aid Kit - each team should carry an individualized first aid kit for their sport and the knowledge of those who will be using it.  Sports require more than just few pieces of gauze and band-aids but unless you are trained to do so you don't need a stitch kit. 

Do Risk Assessments - at practices and games.  Know what the areas of risk are in your sport and at each facility you are at.  By doing so you can implement prevention strategies and be more prepared for situations that are specific to each activity. 

By no means is this a complete list of everything that comprises a risk management program.  After each practice, game or competition you will tweek your plan based on what occurred.  Rely on past experiences as well to help form your full plan.  Risk management is about creating a safe environment for your athletes, your staff as well as the other team and spectators.  Though when you first start working on your plan it is a lot of work, the benefits pay off throughout the seasons.  When injuries do occur, because you were prepared they will take less energy and focus at that time than if you did not have an effective risk management plan. 

For more information on risk management, EAPs and the coaches role please visit our website at www.eliteinjury.com  and follow us on Twitter @EliteInjuryMgmt 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What Came First the Athlete or the Injury?

The question of whether there is more sport related injuries in youth sports begs is similar to the which came first the chicken or the egg, or is the rooster crowing more?

Though in recent years there has been some decrease in sport participation for adolescents, overall 75% of children aged 5-17 participate in some form (Sports Participation 2010).  All sports bring with them a risk of injury, younger athletes tend to suffer traumatic injuries while those over the age of 13 tend to suffer more chronic overuse type injuries, (Pediatric Sports Injuries An Age Comparison of Children Versus Adolescents)

So what really came first?  Are there more young athletes or are the young athletes getting injured more?  If there are more athletes participating then it would be logical to assume that there would be more injuries.  However statistics do show that there has been a decrease in participation in certain sports, yet sports that did not exist in 90's are very popular today.  

However, the way sports are played has changed.  Many things that would be considered activities are now organized sports, ie. Ultimate Frisbee.  Sports are seen as a means to an end, school scholarships and professional contracts are the ultimate goal for many parents and athletes.  Due to this athletes are pushing and being pushed at a younger age.  Sport specialization and the formalization of youth sports has these young athletes performing more often and at higher intensities.  

One of the major changes in sport is the culture.  The "old school" thought was that if it wasn't broke you played.  Former athletes were taught to tape an Aspirin to it and keep playing, that playing through injuries no matter how severe was what made you strong.  Athletes are now taught to let their coaches, parents, teachers and athletic therapists know if they are injured.  This point alone could attest for the rise in injuries.  It may not be there is more occurring, it is just that there are more being reported.  

No matter the reasoning for the increase in sports injuries, they are occurring at a greater rate.  As a parent, coach, teacher, athletic therapist/trainer, and athletes we need to focus on injury prevention and proper management.  There needs to be a greater focus on player safety and overall wellness.  For our young athletes to truly get the best experience in sport, they need to be able to participate without fear of injury. 

For more information follow us on Twitter @EliteInjuryMgmt and our website at www.eliteinjury.com