For most high school football players that participated in the St. Pauls and football game on Sept. 24, it was a typical game.
However, the game had a potentially deadly outcome for junior defensive lineman Chad Overstreet, 16, of Red Springs, who experienced a violent hit. Without the quick response from one of Southeastern Health’s athletic trainers, his life could have changed forever.
Overstreet was running near the end of the first quarter when he experienced a blindside hit to his left side and rib. Although the significant hit drew attention from athletic trainers and spectators alike, Overstreet did not initially seem affected and was able to jog off the field.
However, due to the nature of the hit, he was met at the sidelines by Southeastern Health Athletic Trainer Brendon Jonsson and Jordan Jones, an athletic training student from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, who quickly began to assess the situation.
According to Jonsson, Overstreet proceeded to pass multiple concussion evaluations. He was administered standard rib and abdominal evaluations that proved obvious tenderness, muscle soreness and bruised ribs, but nothing appeared to be broken.
Overstreet then collapsed into the athletic trainer’s arms. He lost consciousness several times and began to experience nausea, all indicators that this was a severe injury and immediate medical attention was necessary.
“I was literally doing my job as a first responder, giving that initial evaluation to recognize any life-threatening injuries,” Jonsson said. “And once we did recognize it, we took the steps that we needed to give him the attention that he needed. It is just what we do every day.”
Overstreet, within minutes, was transported to Southeastern Regional Medical Center, where it was determined that he had a lacerated spleen, an acute injury. Luckily for Overstreet, his injury would not require surgery. Overstreet spent four days in intensive care and a few additional days in a standard nursing unit before being released from the hospital a week later. Overstreet is currently following-up with physicians and, so far, his doctors are confident that he might be able to play football next year — his senior season.
Just one day after Overstreet was injured, a New Jersey high school football player in a somewhat similar situation received a blow to the left side of his rib cage too. It appeared that he received quick and immediate care on the field and at a local hospital, but due to an enlarged spleen, the teen passed away.
“It makes me happy to know that I did my job to the best of my ability, and we had a positive outcome,” Jonsson said. “Not to say that I did anything better than the medical team in New Jersey did because I know they did their job properly and just, unfortunately, they didn’t have a positive outcome.”
Overstreet, who had shown interest in athletic training himself prior to his injury, plans to continue to shadow Jonsson even after he is fully recovered.
“The athletic trainers helped out a lot, kept me calm and gave me comfort,” Overstreet said. “You never know what could happen and, luckily, I’m back to normal and feeling good. I hope to have a future in football.”
Jonsson is just one of the six certified athletic trainers that Southeastern Health who provide assistance during practices and games for student athletes to help prevent and care for injuries.
Southeastern Health’s newest orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Eric Breitbart, of Southeastern Orthopedics, specializes in sportsmedicine and oversees the athletic training program.
“The athletic trainer is there to provide skilled, trained care for athletes,” Jonsson said. “Athletic trainers are very important from an injury management standpoint of recognizing life-threatening and minor injuries as well as being trained in treatment and rehabilitation. I’m doing this because I love these kids, my school and athletics, but I want to make sure that they are playing safe and not playing injured.”
For information about Southeastern Health’s athletic trainer program, call Southeastern Orthopedics at 910-738-1065.
Kelli Skipper is a content writer and the community engagement specialist for Southeastern Health.