College of Education and Human Development
Athletic Training Graduate Students Serve and Learn at Area Middle Schools
November 2, 2015
As soon as Sara Woodring saw the football player’s left hand swell and turn black and blue, she knew it was at least badly bruised, at worst fractured.
So Woodring, monitoring practice that day at Beville Middle School in Woodbridge, Va., did what any good athletic trainer would do. She iced the hand that had smacked a helmet, made sure its blood flow was not impaired, communicated with the school nurse and notified the player’s parents, assuring them he was being cared for.
“If it wasn’t for her,” said Hess Moore, Beville’s longtime athletic director, “things could have been much worse.”
Middle schools in Prince William County do not have assigned athletic trainers. But Woodring, a first-year graduate student at George Mason University, is part of a project in which the university, through a $250,000 grant from the Potomac Health Foundation, is providing athletic trainers to nine of the county’s middle schools.
The trainers—graduate students who majored in athletic training—are board certified and state licensed. They work about 20 hours a week and in the fall cover football, volleyball, boys soccer, track and field, and cheerleading.
The program, which goes throughout the school year, is a win-win. The schools get a medical professional on staff they would not otherwise have, and the university provides real-world training for its students and runs a research project that tracks injuries.
“It’s a great asset,” said Fred Milbert, supervisor of Prince William County’s Office of Student Learning. “It puts a level of care and expertise there for an underserved age group.”
“It’s awesome what we’re doing,” Woodring said. “It’s been a huge growing experience for me, learning to work with kids and distinguishing different types of injuries. It’s widening my range of knowledge and expertise in that area.”
The research has wide implications as well, not only for the schools but the community. The data could help determine injury risk factors and best practices, as the athletic trainers log interactions with students, injuries, circumstances, treatments and outcomes.
“For example, if the athletic trainers document a high number of injuries at a particular school or a particular sport, the school can use this information to determine if a problem needs to be addressed, the best way to do it and, using the information collected, to evaluate if the change improved safety,” said Mason professor Shane Caswell, the project’s lead investigator and executive director of the Sports Medicine Assessment, Research, and Testing (SMART) Laboratory.
Serious injuries have included concussions, broken arms and knee sprains. Sometimes, though, said athletic trainer Hannah Stone, a second-year grad student working at Woodbridge Middle School, the job is simply “helping [students] figure out if they’re really hurt or just flustered.”
Back at Beville Middle School, the hand of the football player Woodring helped was not fractured but sustained what Moore, the athletic director, called a deep bruise.
“I was right there when it happened,” Woodring said. “He was able to come right to me.”
“It takes a lot of pressure off us,” Moore said of Woodring’s presence. “We all love her.”
This article was written by Damian Cristodero for Mason News.
George Mason University's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) includes two schools: the Graduate School of Education, one of the most comprehensive education schools in Virginia, and the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism. CEHD offers a full range of courses, certificates, and degree programs on campus, online, and on site to more than 4,000 students each year. CEHD is fully accredited by NCATE, and all licensure programs are approved by the Virginia Department of Education. George Mason University, located just outside of Washington, DC, is Virginia's largest public research university.
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