This is the last post in a two-part series about a sports medicine partnership that benefits students and athletes.
Keeping the focus on education is one of the outcomes of a health partnership between Indiana University Health and Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). That’s according to Kathy Sparks, who serves as an ad hoc administrator for the sports medicine program at IPS.
Sparks, a team leader at IU Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, recruits, hires and supervises full-time certified athletic trainers (ATC’s) IPS hires for each high school. Her team handles sports medicine and administrative tasks that would otherwise fall to coaches and athletic administrators.
What an ATC does
- Offers rehab and care for sports injuries.
- Teaches health-related classes from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Collects pre-participation physicals and concussion consent forms.
- Works with school nurses to follow up on kids who have academic or behavioral issues related to concussions or other injuries.
- Helps perform cardiac screening. (Last year, they screened more than 400 athletes with free echocardiograms..)
- Teaching CPR.
- Measures body fat for sports like wrestling.
- Maintains an AED program started in 2001. (Through a series of grants, IPS acquired 42 AEDs, one of which saved an athlete’s life in August 2009.)
IU Health also provides physicians for varsity football games and a full-time strength coach coordinator for IPS Athletics.
The crown jewel of the relationship is a vocational program introducing IPS students to athletic training as a profession. “When I started, I was covering seven high schools,” Sparks said. “It didn’t take long to realize we needed help.” Sparks recruited student athletic trainers and taught them how to care for injuries with basic first aid.
Since 1995 she has planned an annual field trip for student athletic trainers to colleges offering athletic training degrees. The trip was supported in 2010 and 2011 by a grant from the National Athletic Trainers Association’s Ethnic Diversity Advisory Council. In a profession that prides itself on mentoring young people, the NATA is interested in recruiting minorities. With its minority population of almost 75 percent, IPS was a perfect recipient for the grant.
“It’s been rewarding to see former students go on into athletic training, medicine, and other allied health professions,” Sparks said. Her work came full circle in 2009 when she hired a former student as a full-time teacher/athletic trainer for Arsenal Tech High School.