Background: In June 1997, the American Academy of Pediatrics introduced a resolution asking the American Medical Association (AMA) to support efforts to place certified athletic trainers in all secondary schools. The AMA Council on Scientific Affairs studied that resolution and presented this report to the AMA House of Delegates in June 1998.
Objective: To identify the professional responsibilities, educational requirements, and current use of certified athletic trainers in the prevention and care of high school sports injuries.
Data sources: MEDLINE and HealthSTAR databases were searched for English-language articles published from 1980 to 1998. Additional references were derived from references in pertinent articles, communication with experts, and the Internet sites of athletic training and sports medicine associations.
Data synthesis: One in 5 of approximately 6 million adolescents who participate in high school sports each year sustains a sport-related injury. Most of these injuries are minor and occur during practices rather than competitions. Approximately 1 of every 100000 high school athletes will sustain a catastrophic injury. About 35% of US high schools use the services of a certified athletic trainer, who, under a physician's supervision, is responsible for the prevention and care of athletic injuries and coordination of the school athletic health program.
Conclusions/recommendations: Emphasis should be given to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of participants in high school sports. Whereas most high school sports injuries are minor, adequately trained personnel should be present on site to ensure that such injuries are recognized early, treated immediately, and allowed to heal properly, thereby reducing the risk of more serious injury or reinjury. For such care, team physicians and coaches should have the assistance of a certified athletic trainer.