A University of La Verne alumna was featured on a segment of the ESPN news show “Outside the Lines” about concussions earlier this month.
The show focused on the importance of safety for students playing sports in high school.
Kira Au, a 2004 graduate, was featured on the segment as the certified athletic trainer for Bishop Amat Memorial High School in La Puente.
“I think it’s as great way to promote athletic training,” Au said.
According to the broadcast, 58 percent of high schools do not have medically trained staff to watch over the athletes’ health during games and/or practices.
Bishop Amat Memorial High School is one of the few high schools that have a certified athletic trainer on staff.
“I think that it’s a little disappointing that it’s not more of a priority at a higher level,” Au said.
She was asked to do the show by the Sports Concussion Institute.
She had worked with the institute in the past on concussion management.
The segment explained that coaches and players cannot be left with the decision to determine the player’s health.
One reason is that they do not have the knowledge and expertise to know whether a player should participate.
The primary reason is that players, coaches and even parents are too concerned about winning the game to worry about health and safety.
They need a medical expert who is focused on the health of the players rather than the score of the game so that they can be properly taken care of.
“It’s not their athlete. It’s somebody’s child,” Au said.
Sometimes players will not report their symptoms in fear that they will not be cleared to play in the game due to a concussion.
Certified athletic trainers know how to look for certain concussion-related symptoms such as memory loss, reflexes and sensory details.
“The gist of the piece on ESPN is to illustrate the fact that the presence of an athletic trainer is there to protect them from themselves,” said Paul Alvarez, professor of movement and sports sciences, assistant athletic trainer and athletic training and education program clinical supervisor.
There was one incident six years ago where a player at Waldport High School in Waldport, Ore., was diagnosed with second impact syndrome.
Max Conradt, who played as the quarterback, defensive end and played on the special teams, received a concussion at one game he played, but played again that next Friday where he collapsed to the ground and became unconscious.
His father blames the 20-year-old helmet his son was wearing and the lack of medically-trained staff for his son’s condition.
Conradt is now 23 and lives in an assisted living apartment facility.
“The constant focus for us is that the athletes come first, not the game,”Alvarez said.
Before working at Bishop Amat, Au worked as an athletic trainer at Indiana State University and University of California Irvine.
She finally settled at Bishop Amat when she was referred for the newly created athletic trainer position because of her organization and maturity, Alvarez said.
After the program aired the National Athletic Trainers Association contacted her about working on future projects together.
They have asked her national public relations woman to campaign for any future media work.
“I’d like to think we’re proud of all our graduates equally, whether or not they are on a national news show,” Alvarez said.
Sher Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.