MBJ Athletic Trainers at MYF games in Missoula.
As an athletic trainer, we are trained to help athletes of all ages and in many settings. At Missoula Bone & Joint (MBJ), our sports medicine outreach team is most often found in the clinic as physician extenders or orthopedic assistants during the day, and at high schools across Western Montana in the evenings. However, in the fall we can also be found providing coverage to the many athletes of Missoula Youth Football on the weekends. Missoula Youth Football (MYF) is an organization that helps young boys and girls learn the game of football while fostering the love of sports and a team atmosphere. MYF and MBJ have come together to provide another component to the game, a safe environment.
In the NFL and at the collegiate level, players have teams of sports medicine providers including physicians and athletic trainers at their disposal during each game. MYF thought the same opportunity should be provided to each of their players’ and their families. At MBJ, our team can work together to imitate this model. If an athlete goes down on the field, the athletic trainer will acutely manage the injury and provide education to the family. If necessary, they can be referred to the weekend urgent care where our providers can get them imaging, DME (durable medical equipment eg. bracing), and a follow up appointment, then get them back to the field to celebrate a win with their team. Throughout the year it was great to see the coaches call one of the athletic trainers over to evaluate a player. This takes the stress and liability off of the coaches, so they are able to focus on the game instead. Many of the parents were also comforted to have a licensed healthcare provider just a few steps away, able to evaluate and treat their son or daughter.
Youth sport safety is something that is important to both MYF and MBJ. Throughout our years working together, we have developed a concussion policy to help remove athletes from play and safely return athletes to play, who are suspected of having a head injury. We introduced emergency action plans to aid in the effectiveness of a response during a medical emergency (ie. heat illness, cardiac arrest, acute cervical spine injuries). MYF is also now offering a flex football league, where the athletes can learn the fundamentals of the game before reaching the tackling age. The benefits of taking measures like these to improve the safety of the young athletes is already showing.
To finish the season, I had the pleasure of covering the MYF Championship games hosted in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. It was amazing to see the improvement the young athletes had made, especially those coming back from injuries throughout the season. Youth sports are extremely beneficial in building the character, healthy habits, and teamwork for children in our community. As an MBJ Sports Medicine Team, our goal is to keep these kids in the game while being as safe as we can, and to see it all come together is something truly special.
Lexie Davis, MAT, LAT, ATC
Missoula Bone & Joint Outreach Event Coordinator and Athletic Trainer