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USC Sports Medicine & SC Athletics Provide Updates on Collision Injuries

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Collision Injuries workshop ad.jpgThis past weekend USC Sports Medicine and South Carolina Athletics hosted athletic trainers and other medical professionals from around the state and southeast for a continuing education seminar on Collision Injuries. Over 120 professionals gathered at the Crews building here at Williams-Brice Stadium to discuss case studies, updated standards of care, and refreshers on concussions, oral/dental trauma, eye injuries, spinal injuries, spine boarding and more.

"We've talked about doing this for awhile," said Dr. Jeffrey Guy of USC Sports Medicine and Medical Director for South Carolina Athletics. "With being part of the university, having a medical school, an academic hospital, an exercise science department, and an athletic training program, South Carolina has so many components of a sports medicine support system. It's part of our mission as academic physicians and as athletic trainers to provide this type of support and education to the state."

Concussion is one of the hottest topics in sport right now and was the focus of several of the day's presentations. With accepted standards used in the past being called into question and being modified to fit our current understanding, Athletic Trainers (abbreviated ATC to reflect their certification) and all healthcare professionals dealing with these injuries must stay up to date on the most recent findings.

Dr. Ramon Ylanan of USC Sports Medicine helped update the attendees on the most recent standards regarding concussion from the 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, which recommended concussions be considered as a single entity - it either is a concussion or it isn't. This current view abandons past standards of grading scales for severity that were often based primarily or solely on loss of consciousness and classifying concussions as "simple" or "complex", which have now been found to be incomplete or inaccurate views of concussion. Many of the different scales and tools were inconsistent and there was no universally accepted method for classifying the severity of concussions and thus return to play criteria. The new standard makes at least classifying the injury relatively simple, regardless of the apparent severity. Though some might consider an injury a "minor" concussion based on old guidelines, the new standard holds that there is no such thing - a concussion is a concussion. You won't see athletes just getting their "bell rung" and returning to play. The golden rule is, "when in doubt, sit them out."

Regarding return to play, George Wham, PhD, Athletic Trainer at Pelion High School, gave a great update on legislation that has passed in other states and proposed legislation here in South Carolina that would regulate return to play after concussion for young athletes. Wham also updated attendees, many of whom provide medical care for area high school athletes, on the South Carolina High School League's rules on returning to play which were recently revised to be more stringent. Dr. Jason Stacy of USC Sports Medicine later discussed the differences in risk and treatment for concussion between youth and adult athletes.

"One of the things we wanted to do with this is be able to get everyone together in one spot and have some healthy discussions. From the university standpoint, being able to provide this type of atmosphere not only for the athletic trainers but also for the doctors is great," explained Dr. Guy. "We wanted a variety of topics that would stimulate thought and bring up discussion including case studies from other schools and experts in the field."

While all the case studies were intriguing, one was particularly moving. Many Gamecock fans are familiar with the story of Johnathan Taylor, the Georgia outfielder who suffered two fractured vertebrae and resulting paralysis after a collision on the field with teammate and best friend Zach Cone this past March. Georgia Baseball Athletic Trainer Mike Dillon spoke on the days and now months following the injury and how medical staffs can better prepare for potentially catastrophic injuries, from emergency action plans to understanding insurance coverage to knowing where they will take athletes who need more specialized care (Taylor is now at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta).

Dillon also shared why he will be a Texas Rangers fan for life - the team drafted Taylor, who may never walk again, with their 33rd-round pick of the MLB Draft after drafting Cone in the 2nd round. They plan to find a place for Taylor somewhere in the organization whenever he is ready after completing his degree and advancing in his rehabilitation.

For more information on USC Sports Medicine check out their website,  the South Carolina Athletics Sports Medicine staff, and the University of South Carolina Athletic Training Education Program.

-Brittany


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