Article reposted from The Galt Herald
Author: Kerensa Uyeta-Buckley
Forty-nine states, as well as the District of Columbia, require athletic trainers to be licensed and certified, including those that work at high schools.
California is the odd man out in this scenario, and Assemblymember Matt Dababneh is hoping to improve prep athletes’ safety with a bill that will be heard in the California State Assembly and Senate in 2018.
Dababneh introduced Assembly Bill 1510, known as the Athletic Training Practice Act, earlier this year with the goal to make sure that athletic trainers that work with high school athletes are licensed, as well as creating the Athletic Trainer Licensing Committee within the California Board of Occupational Therapy.
The Korey Stringer Institute of the University of Connecticut ranked California second to last for its level of preparedness or the amount of safeguards it has in place in regard to high school athletes’ safety to prevent catastrophic injury or sudden death.
Both Galt High School and Liberty Ranch High School employ athletic trainers who are certified.
However, approximately 30 percent of people who call themselves athletic trainers in California are not qualified to treat athletes, according to the California Athletic Trainers’ Association.
Dababneh said that he created the bill upon researching high school athletic trainers in the state and finding incidents where injuries occurred, leading him to want to ensure the highest measures are taken when it comes to prep sports safety.
“Every year we see a number of very tragic stories in the state where you’ll have an athlete collapse on the field, and we’ve seen a number of stories like that. It’s something where you might not realize there’s a direct correlation because you don’t always know the warning signs,” Dababneh told The Galt Herald on Aug. 21.
A former high school athlete himself, Dababneh still feels the effects of some minor injuries to this day and feels that some players have a desire to get back on the field quickly but that strict measures to enforce athletic trainers’ regulations might help prevent long-lasting injuries or even death.
The study cited that the leading causes of death among secondary school athletes are: sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heatstroke, and exertional sickling.
“I started going back to my district and started talking to coaches, physical education teachers, etc. I know, as a student athlete, you always want to play. You think you’re invincible and you may not have the best judgment to think I shouldn’t go on the field,” Dababneh said, referring to high school athletes.
Each state was assessed and scored based on five areas evaluating “sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heatstroke, appropriate medical coverage and emergency preparedness,” according to the Korey Stringer Institute.
Those people who act as athletic trainers but are not licensed include coaches, teachers, and other high school staff, according to CATA, which also notes that job descriptions for athletic trainers in many high school districts do not mention education or athletic training certification.
“A lot of parents and students hear the word athletic trainer and you have a double-edged sword where you have this false security that even parents, teachers believe the persons being called an athletic trainer has that experience,” Dababneh said.
The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the NCAA are among organizations asking Governor Brown for athletic trainers to be regulated, according to a March 24 press release by CATA. The National Federation of State High School Associations and California Interscholastic Federation section commissioners also support this idea, according to the same press release.
The bill is up to be heard at the start of next year.