Management of Acute Injury and Illness in Pediatric Athletes by Athletic Trainers: Compliance with Emergency Medicine and Athletic Trainer Evidence-Based Guidelines

Bryan Cusack, Morgan Cash, Kyle Tuohy, Jodi Brady-Olympia, Robert P. Olympia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective This study aimed to determine athletic trainer compliance with emergency medicine and athletic training evidence-based guidelines for the on-the-field management of common pediatric sports-related injury and illness. Methods A questionnaire was distributed electronically to selected members of the National Athletic Trainer Association. The questionnaire included 10 clinical scenarios describing common sports-related injury/illness (closed head injury, cervical spine injury, blunt chest injury, blunt abdominal injury, ankle injury, knee injury with laceration, heat-related illness). On-the-field management decisions for each scenario were compared with selected emergency medicine and athletic training guidelines. Results Analysis was performed on 564 completed questionnaires (9% response rate). Responders were compliant with practice guidelines for both emergency medicine and athletic training except for blunt chest trauma with tachycardia, closed head injury with loss of consciousness, closed head injury with repetitive speech, closed head injury with a fall higher than 5 feet, cervical spine injury with paresthesias, and heat-related illness with persistent symptoms. Discrepancies between emergency medicine and athletic training guidelines included closed head injury with repetitive speech, closed head injury and height of fall, closed head injury and unequal pupils, and cervical spine injury with neck pain and paresthesias. Conclusions Based on our sample, athletic trainers were compliant with many guidelines supported by both emergency medicine and athletic training. We identified several deficiencies in the availability of evidence-based guidelines and discrepancies between these guidelines and athletic trainer responses. To provide optimal care to pediatric athletes who sustain injury or illness, emergency medicine and athletic training organizations should collaborate to improve these discrepancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)945-952
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Emergency Care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine

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