A decades-old partnership between Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital has grown into a national model for sports medicine in urban schools. Now managed by IU Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Team Leader Kathy Sparks, the partnership began in 1990 when Sparks was hired as an athletic trainer for seven IPS high schools.
Sparks noticed how many athletic injuries occurred after hours when no medical help was available. She encouraged IPS to hire one full-time athletic trainer for each high school, a goal they met this year. The position requires a dual-degreed teacher/athletic trainer who keeps a non-traditional teaching schedule of 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Their day continues with injury care for athletes until practice and games end in the evening.
“I think it’s really amazing that IPS has made it a priority to create these positions, considering all the challenges they face,” Sparks said. “ You can go to many urban areas and you won’t see an example that offers this kind of direct benefit to health care and education.”
The partnership makes a huge community impact, starting with better care and rehabilitation for athletes. In 2011 the certified athletic trainers (ATCs) offered rehab and care for 7,862 athletes who required attention for everything from bandaging to broken bones. That saved families an estimated $685,849 in medical expenses and kept kids from missing school for offsite care.
In our next post you’ll hear more about the partnership’s education connection.