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Player Safety: it’s more than injury prevention

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“Player safety” has finally ascended to its long-overdue prominent post in the sports conversation. Professional and amateur sports leagues are taking great strides in preventing injury and protecting against re-injury. There are a greater concern and compassion for preserving the health of athletes beyond the duration of their athletic career, not to mention that a roster riddled with injuries makes the ultimate goal of winning competition a more distant reality.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, injury of varying degrees is inevitable in athletics. While technology has advanced to reduce recovery time, there’s an invisible force within athletic facilities that put the recovery at constant risk of derailing and has the potential to turn typical injuries into life-threatening situations.

Arms and legs suffer from turf burn, sweat drips off of bodies and into whirlpools and ice baths, dirty towels are shared between players, and weight room equipment fails to get wiped down as often as it should. In short, the sports environment is conducive to infections. Statistically speaking, athletes are ten times more vulnerable to S.aureus (Staph) and MRSA infections according to the CDC. In the close quarters of an athletic team, infections are easily transmitted between players and to other staff.

The best teams are always seeking competitive advantages and added measures to ensure a healthy roster should be paramount. Sports staffs need to understand the infection risks present in their facilities and on their equipment, and should be on the lookout for innovative additions to their existing infection control to reduce or eliminate their players’ exposure to pathogens to the greatest extent practical. And in the process, play their part in the global antibiotic stewardship efforts.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/community/team-hc-providers/advice-for-athletes.html
  2. https://dicon.medicine.duke.edu/athletics-mrsa
  3. Clin Sports Med. 2019 Oct;38(4):597-618. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2019.06.001.