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Trainers Conference Examines Student-Athlete Safety | News

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Trainers Conference Examines Student-Athlete Safety
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LAS VEGAS - Experts in the world of sports medicine are in Las Vegas this week to focus on student athlete safety.

One of the topics they will discuss at the National Athletic Trainers Association's annual conference is how to reduce the risk of head injuries. One tip for coaches and parents is to immediately take a student athlete out of the game if he or she suffers a head injury.

Even experts in brain science don't know the repercussions of repeated hits to the head. They have seen professional athletes with damage to their brains. Athletic trainers are now trying to better protect student-athletes.

The science is constantly changing. More research is being done on the brain and how it works. Earlier this year, the NFL teamed with General Electric to develop a better way to diagnose and treat brain injuries.

Dr. Charles Bernick of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is working with the Department of Defense to determine the long-term effects of concussions. He says children need be kept under close watch after taking a big hit during any sport.

"Athletes want to continue playing. They don't want to admit to having any symptoms, so the first line of defense is having well-trained people on the sidelines that can recognize a concussion and can get a player out when that occurs," he said.

Spotting a concussion is not easy. They don't just occur when someone loses consciousness.

Dr. Bernick says a concussion could happen when someone suffers a hit to the head and appears dazed. Other symptoms include loss of memory, frequent headaches and dizziness.

In addition to head injuries, heat-related illnesses can also plague student athletes. The summer heat in Las Vegas can be brutal for kids playing soccer or going through football and baseball practices.

Every high school in Clark County has an athletic trainer. Many will attend this week's NATA conference to learn new and better ways to treat heat-related illnesses.

"I think they're committed to a continual education, and that's because medicine changes daily as we watch the news or read the headlines," said Brian Conway with Ben Hogan Sports Medicine. "The way we treat injuries, the way we take care of problems changes all the time, so it's important those athletic trainers are committed to continue their education."

The best resource to stop overheating, according to these athletic trainers, is an ice bath, which can be found in most Clark County high schools.

Trainers are taught to tell players to drink a lot of water and stay in the shade whenever they can. Athletic trainers for CCSD say their team demands coaches, parents and/or players to step in and sit a player when he or she gets hurt or appears overheated. The trainers also ask coaches to constantly evaluate their practice procedures.

"Different athletic trainers have different skill sets," said CCSD Sports Medicine Coordinator Jeremy Haas. "The one thing I'm looking for when we hire athletic trainers is to make sure that they're good communicators and good with people, so they can communicate with the parents and coaches things that need to be said. If they need to tell the coach that they need more water breaks, they have to have the ability to go up to the coach and tell them that."

If a kid is out in the heat and not sweating, or if he or she seems dizzy or unfocused, those are warning signs he or she needs to get out of the heat.

In addition to plenty of water and refreshments, parents and coaches should also bring ice cold towels to games that can be applied to players to keep them cool.

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