January 2020

Study: Student Athlete Safety Is Not a Priority in US High Schools

A recent study showed that one-third of public and private high schools in the US have no access to athletic trainers and that lack of appropriate sports medicine care is even greater for private schools where parents are traditionally paying for what they perceive as a better and safer experience. The study, “Athletic Trainer Services in the Secondary School Setting: The Athletic Training and Locations Services Project (ATLAS),” conducted by the Korey Stringer Institute, was published in the Journal of Athletic Training. To date, this is the most comprehensive study to capture the level of athletic trainer services as it included every US public and private high school with an athletics program.

Notable Statistics

  • Of the 20,272 secondary schools identified, 66% of schools had access to athletic trainer services, defined as receiving services in any form by a licensed or certified athletic trainer, while 34% had no access.
  • Of those schools with access to athletic trainer services, 53% received full-time (FT) services, the gold standard of care, while 47% received part-time (PT) services.
  • Of the 16,076 public schools identified, 37% had FT, 32% had PT, and 31% had no athletic trainer services. Of the 4,196 private schools identified, 27% had FT, 28% had PT, and 45% had no athletic trainer services.

“Schools need to see athletic trainers are an essential requirement to having an athletics program—similar to how they see the coach,” said National Association of Athletic Trainers (NATA) President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC. “While coaches oversee play on the field, athletic trainers are responsible for injury prevention and addressing the physical and mental effects of playing the game. Athletic trainers should not be a luxury but rather a necessity for all programs.”

To access the study, visit natajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.4085/1062-6050-12-19.

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