Keeping our young athletes safer 

Published 12:52 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Over the holidays, we announced a new service that St. Luke’s provides to Polk County High School Athletics — Athletic Training. But as I’ve heard from many in the community, there’s a blurring in perception between athletic and personal training. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. Since March is National Athletic Trainer Awareness Month, I thought I would take this opportunity to define our athletic training program.


Personal trainers are experts in physical fitness and exercise. In addition, they’re masters in interpersonal and motivational skills that lead individuals to safe and effective exercise lifestyles promoting personal wellness.

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Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, examining, diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating injured athletes. Often, athletic trainers are the first healthcare providers on the scene after an injury. At St. Luke’s, our athletic trainers collaborate with Dr. Azar and Dr. Cadier at St. Luke’s Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, and our emergency department doctors to provide emergent care, rehabilitation care, and develop injury prevention programs for PCHS athletes. Our athletic trainers also promote an open line of communication between the injured athlete, physician, physical therapist, coach, and parents to determine when the athlete can safely return to practice and competition. Athletic training is recognized as an allied healthcare profession by the American Medical Association, the Health Resources Services Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services.


St. Luke’s has two ATs; Jason Currin, Manager of Athletic Training, and Jason Nussbaum, Athletic Trainer. Both are certified and licensed ATs with extensive training. And both ATs are highly educated and skilled health sciences professionals specializing in athletic healthcare. Jason Currin calls the offices of St. Luke’s Orthopedic & Sports Medicine home. At the same time, Jason Nussbaum is stationed on campus at PCHS and works directly with the coaches and student-athletes. 


As the manager of athletic training, Jason Currin wrote and is now implementing St. Luke’s Emergency Action Plan for PCHS. Although rare in athletics, medical emergencies can happen anytime and anywhere. “I cannot overstate the need to plan and prepare to manage emergent events,” said Currin. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association defines an Emergency Action Plan as a “blueprint for handling emergencies” that includes “education and training, and maintenance of emergency equipment and supplies.


In coordination with PCHS, St. Luke’s Athletic Training has been working very hard to prepare for medical emergencies using the latest research and best practices within the athletic training profession. In addition to sports injuries, these plans include emergencies such as asthma attacks, heat stroke, and cardiac arrest. 


Currin told me, “in addition to emergency-specific plans, we’ve created site-specific plans to display at each of the high school’s athletic venues. We intend to work with administrators, coaches, parents, athletes, and Polk County EMS to ensure smooth operations should a medical emergency occur at Polk County High School.” 


“We know athletic trainers improve functional outcomes of our injured student-athletes,” said Deshane Briscoe, Athletic Director at PCHS. “The preventative care provided by the St. Luke’s athletic trainers has had an immediate positive impact on our athletes.” 


When Jason Nussbaum first arrived at PCHS, he saw three to four student-athletes per day. As of this writing, he’s averaging around fifteen student-athletes daily! Jason provides one-on-one treatment, rehabilitation, and reconditioning while building relationships and trusts with coaches, parents, and student-athletes. 


While participating in an away recent match, an athlete was injured, but the AT from the host school did not recognize the extent of the injury. The athlete did not return to action that day but instead visited our AT on Monday. Jason N. immediately recognized the trauma could be much worse than initially determined. In less than thirty minutes, Dr. Cadier at St. Luke’s Orthopedic evaluated the athlete, ordered x-rays, diagnosed, and developed a recovery plan! The athlete, family and coach were all ecstatic over the care received.


Jason Currin states, “ATs can reduce injury through prevention exercises and thorough rehabilitation recuperation.” The value of St. Luke’s athletic trainers translates to a healthier athletic program at PCHS, and our focus is the health and well-being of the student-athletes at PCHS. Jason N. and I are incredibly grateful and humbled to serve this wonderful community!”