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New athletic training program helps high school students prevent and treat injuries

Most parents of teenage athletes would probably agree that their biggest concern is their kids getting hurt.

While competitive sports and injuries go hand-in-hand, the benefits of participating in sporting activities—being physically fit, being part of a team, achieving goals, developing positive character traits such as perseverance, determination, and discipline—far outweigh the risks for many parents.

But it still doesn’t take away that nagging thought―“What if my child is injured?”

Some sports-related injuries can be serious (and a few even life-threatening), but the vast majority of them are things like sprains, pulled muscles, and torn ligaments.

Many larger school districts employ full-time athletic trainers—multi-skilled, health-care providers who work under the supervision of a physician—to help treat and prevent these kinds of injuries.

But what happens if your child’s school has no athletic trainer? Who will be there to help if they get hurt? Should you go to the emergency room? Will you have to wait months to see an orthopedic doctor? Will they be able to play again? If so, when? What can you do to help them recover in the meantime?

To help address the needs of schools that do not employ athletic trainers, the Scott & White Physical Therapy Clinic in Round Rock created the Athletic Training Outreach Program for area high schools.

Diana Operhall, licensed athletic trainer and program coordinator, spends several hours a week at each high school evaluating students with sports-related injuries. She examines students, discusses treatment and rehabilitation options with them, and makes recommendations to the coaching staff about when the students might be able to return to play.

If the injury requires the services of an orthopedic doctor, Operhall can help get the student in to see a doctor quickly, avoiding long wait times for appointments.

“Those kids who need to be seen immediately don’t have to wait,” Operhall said. “I can usually get them in within 48 hours.”

The program also offers proactive assistance by providing students with information about injury prevention, exercise, and nutrition.

Operhall said the response to the program so far has been great—and not just from high schools.

“Sometimes I have 10 or 15 students waiting for me when I get there,” she said. “I’m even getting referrals from middle schools.”

The program is free-of-charge to both athletes and schools, and has been implemented so far in five area high schools: Lago Vista, Salado, Florence, Round Rock Christian Academy, Bartlett, and Jerrell. In addition, the program provides supplemental assistance to athletic trainers at high schools in Taylor, Hendrickson, and Georgetown.

For more information about this program, including how your school can participate, contact Diana Operhall at or call 512-509-0287.

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New athletic training program helps high school students prevent and treat injuries