Athletic trainers emphasize concussion education, testing
August 30, 2019 | Lynchburg, Va.
Electronic analysis has streamlined the process of baseline testing for concussions among Liberty University Club Sports student-athletes, allowing Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Angie Witt and her staff to test more players on more teams this fall.
Witt said Club Sports athletic trainers have done baseline testing for several years, but last year started using the web-based management program Concussion Vital Signs. Testing is conducted on athletes in high-impact sports most prone to concussions, including hockey (all five levels: DI, DII, and DIII men and DI and DII women), men's and women's wrestling, men's lacrosse, equestrian, men's and women's taekwondo, and women's synchronized skating.
"We only do testing on a portion of athletes because of the sheer numbers we have," Witt said, noting that Club Sports expects 600-650 student-athletes on 41 teams this year. "We will be working with them closely to make sure we are taking the best care of our athletes."
She said in addition to requiring sports physicals for all incoming freshmen and transfers, student-athletes on those 12 teams will have baseline concussion tests performed between tryouts and their first practices. They will not need to be tested again unless they experience a concussion.
In addition to offering nutritional tips and a health screening overseen by Club Sports Coordinator of Strength & Conditioning Chris Kerr, Club Sports Athletic Training staff will emphasize concussion awareness and education at sport-specific meetings for all 41 teams from Aug. 26 through Sept. 19, prior to the start of practices and competition.
Coaches and student-athletes are instructed on how to detect concussion signs and symptoms, such as headaches or trouble sleeping, in themselves and their teammates. The meetings will emphasize the importance of reporting them to a member of the athletic training staff.
That staff includes two full-time athletic trainers — Witt and Assistant Director of Sports Medicine Tiffany Campbell (who replaces Kyle Swanson and will travel with the wrestling team this year) — and four graduate assistants who each have traveling responsibilities with specific teams — Jackson Lohr (men's hockey), Julianne Purves (women's DI hockey), Ben Harris (men's lacrosse), and Rachel Watkins (men's swimming & diving, DII men's and DII women's hockey).
"We will definitely be staffing every home event, as well as away events for high-impact sports, including hockey, wrestling, men's lacrosse, and sometimes men's swimming and volleyball," Witt said.
Club Sports Athletic Training is starting two new programs this year: Recovery Mondays, focusing on nutrition and recovery tips; and Rapid Reboot, a quick recovery regimen for legs and hips, from 9 a.m. to noon. Student-athletes can sign up for those classes on the staff's Instagram page @luclubsportsat.