The Shawnee Mission School District and the Sports Medicine and Performance Center at the University at Kansas Hospital are teaming up to help high school student-athletes play better, safer and healthier.
Matt Johnson, director of student services and athletics for the Shawnee Mission School District, does not expect any pushback from student-athletes or parents.
“I think that with the training services we’ve had in the past, the athletes have had great relationships with the trainers,” he said. “These are people they really trust.”
The program was officially implemented and started on July 1. There are three major components to the three-year agreement: impact testing, prevention strategies and nutrition. Encompassing all three of those is the employment of full-time, board certified, Kansas licensed athletic trainers at each of the six Shawnee Mission high schools.
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So far, Johnson said there are trainers assigned to three of the six high schools. Once the fall semester begins, these trainers will be working an average of 40 hours per week.
Once fall sports start their seasons, trainers will conduct impact testing on athletes as a baseline concussion test. This allows trainers to know when an athlete is ready to return to play after sustaining a concussion. If an athlete does become concussed, or acquires any other type of injury, the injury will be recorded on a data program used to track frequency of injuries.
Johnson said that the hope is that knowing which injuries happen most frequently will lead to creating better prevention programs and strategies.
There is a mutual respect between Johnson and the Bob Page, president and chief executive officer of The University of Kansas Hospital.
“We knew we wanted to serve the entire continuum of athletes in our area,” Page said in a press release. “We have been working successfully with the Royals and Chiefs for several years now. We work with college athletes at Sprint Center.
“Now these same sports medicine experts are helping one of the largest districts in the region to make a positive difference in its sports program.”
The final component of the partnered program is a nutrition plan for the student-athletes. Johnson says he knows, realistically, the kids won’t stick to their nutrition plans 100 percent, but he is hopeful for its benefits.