For Hometown News
TREASURE COAST -- Back to school, fall football, and gridiron memories are best when safety is the number one factor in winning.
Daniel A. Rukeyser, D.C., founder of Vital Wellness Center, reminds parents, coaches, and players that proper precautions on and off the field add up to a winning season for the community.
"Football safety, for players of all ages, begins at home with the player's parents," said Dr. Rukeyser. "It's generally recognized that children under six should not play competitive football and children under ten should not play tackle football. However, for every play, no matter the sport they play, a pre-participation physical evaluation should be standard procedure for athletes of all ages."
Every athlete should receive a pre-participation physical evaluation to detect conditions which could make playing football or other sports life-threatening or disabling and detect medical or musculoskeletal conditions that could predispose an athlete to injury or illness during practice or competition. The evaluation should include both a medical history and physical exam.
o The PPE should be performed by a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner with the training and medical skills to recognize heart disease and orthopedic conditions of concern for football.
o In addition to cardiovascular screening, the PPE for football should include an orthopedic exam focusing on neck strength, joint range of motion, flexibility, anatomical misalignments and muscle-tendon imbalances and documentation/re-examination of past neurological, bone and joint injuries.
o Conditions should be documented which have potential implications for an athlete's safety during practice or games (e.g., visual impairment, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, severe allergies, sickle cell disease, history of heat illness, history of concussion, use of medications, use of steroids, symptoms of eating disorders, etc.).
"Parents of young athletes should take an active role in making sure their children are prepared to play safe football. They should be well-informed about specific injury prevention measures, including safer blocking and tackling techniques that do not use the head. They should be free to make unannounced visits to practices and should ask questions if they see something that seems unsafe. In addition, parents should be sure any injury is reported to the athletic program staff, should reinforce compliance with treatments or rehabilitation after injury," Dr. Rukeyser said.
Dr. Rukeyser also says it's important that precautions be in place should an injury happen on the field of play during football or other athletic events.
o A telephone should be immediately available at all game and practice sites, with prominent posting of numbers of ambulance, paramedics, first aid personnel and police.
o Plainly-marked emergency first aid equipment should be accessible on the field. This equipment should be inspected periodically to assure its completeness, cleanliness and usability.
o An emergency action plan should be developed and rehearsed. Key personnel who are to carry out the plan should be identified. The plan should include responses to severe injuries, hypothermia, heat illness and even allergic reactions to plants and stinging insects.
o A National Athletic Trainers Association-certified athletic trainer or a physician should be available at every game and practice. If this is not possible, a physician should be available by phone or pager. At a minimum, a specific agreement should be negotiated with a local emergency department and/or emergency medical service provider to deal with injured athletes.
o Up-to-date medical information for each athlete should be immediately accessible at the site of every game and practice. This information should include emergency contacts, preferred physician, preferred hospital and a signed consent form giving permission to provide emergency care. In addition, any health conditions or medications should be documented.
o Emergency transportation should be available on the scene or within six minutes from the football field. There should be no cars blocking ambulance routes to the field.
"Our children and student athletes should be encouraged to be active and participate in sports. Together, parents, athletes, coaches, and medical community, we can make sports more fun and safer," said Dr. Rukeyser.
Vital Wellness Center benchmarks success through patient satisfaction, extraordinary care, and wellness.
Vital Wellness Center has locations in Stuart and Fort Pierce and provides convenient hours of operation Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, call (772) 232-4091 in Stuart or (772) 882-9788 in Fort Pierce or visit www.vitalwellnesscenter.com.