Athletic training students get practical experience treating spinal injuries on ice
Training her Athletic Training staff and master’s degree students to be effective first responders to accidents on the ice and other athletic surfaces is a top priority of Liberty University Club Sports Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Angie Witt.
This past Friday at the LaHaye Ice Center, Witt, Athletic Training Clinical Coordinator Dr. John Coots, and Club Sports Assistant Director of Sports Medicine Tiffany Campbell conducted a clinical integration class for four Liberty students pursuing M.S. in Athletic Training degrees through Liberty’s School of Health Sciences and integrating two others from the University of Lynchburg.
They recruited Jordan Chamberlain, a senior defenseman on the Flames’ Division III men’s hockey team, to act as an athlete with a spinal injury, and utilized a cervical collar and scoop stretcher to remove him from the ice with minimal manipulation of his neck and spine. Senior B.S. in Athletic Training student Raymie Hinkley, who has been assigned to work Club Sports events throughout the year, assisted.
“We were concentrating on treating neck injuries, how to put on the C collar, for cervical-spine injuries,” Witt said. “Teaching helps keep you active and ready for different scenarios that could go wrong and prepare for it. Every scenario is different in an emergency, so you can’t review too much. You plan for the worst, and must be ready to act at all times, using the proper techniques and proper equipment. We review our Emergency Action Plan (EAP) with our athletic training students before every game.”
The scoop stretcher comes apart on either side to surround the injured athlete, reducing the amount of lifting required on the slick surface.
“That is really great for treating athletes on the ice, when you’re a small athletic trainer lifting a 200-pound man dealing with a spine or neck injury,” Witt said. “It’s especially helpful if they are knocked out or unresponsive, or have a major leg injury where it’s non weight-bearing.”
Witt has a staff of five full-time and part-time athletic trainers assigned to cover games for Liberty’s five hockey teams, as well as the other 35 Club Sports programs. Josh Smith serves the Division I men’s team; Sam Nigra works with the DII men; Tim Dofflemyer covers DIII men’s games; Kira Turner attends to the DI women; and Campbell works with the DII women, as well as wrestling, when they are not on duty in the Athletic Training clinic located across the back parking lot from the LIC.
Witt and her staff do the training once a year with that class of students after reviewing it as a staff twice a year — in August before hockey tryouts and again for in February before the lacrosse season starts.
“We have adapted it the past couple years to bring students to the rink to give them practical training once or twice per semester,” Witt said. “It is one thing to see it in the classroom, but another to get to apply it on the ice. Their professors take them to different venues for gymnastics and other sports, which all differ in how you would treat the athlete based on the surface.”
She enjoys passing on her knowledge and equipping the next line of athletic trainers to serve in emergency situations.
“Practicing our skills is really important, and we want to practice it as well as teaching others so that when they go out and have to take action, they are prepared,” Witt said. “I enjoy teaching and giving words of wisdom from my experience as an athletic trainer and using evidenced-based practice, based on research — which is why the scoop stretcher has been implemented — and passing it on to the next generation.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer