Athletic department, student-athletes discuss response to injuries

Nov. 23-Dec. 6, 2015

April Wefler
awefler@uccs.edu

The life of a student athlete can be difficult. Playing the sport you love means balancing school and work with practice. On top of that, you may get injured.

Brian Hardy, assistant athletic director for athletic medicine, said the number of athlete injuries fluctuates, depending on the number of exposures athletes have.

“In the fall when we have two soccer teams that have roughly between 25 and 30 athletes, practicing every day, a volleyball team that has 15 athletes practicing every day, we have more exposures to potentially have injury risk,” he said.

Hardy believes athletic trainers serve an in-between role when athletes are injured.

“Athletic trainers in general are a really nice wedge between kinda EMT’s…as well as physical therapists, so we can actually do some rehab techniques that physical therapists do to help athletes get back,” he said.

Heather Bates, track and cross country athlete, has a stress fracture in her foot. Bates, junior business major, could not compete in the regional championship Nov. 7.

She said she’s frustrated that the school hasn’t done anything to help her with her injury.

“I have to go to the doctor a few times a week now, it costs me a lot of money,” Bates said.

“(The school doesn’t) cover expenses as much as I wish they did because it’s such a huge commitment to be part of a team where I give up several hours a week. I still go to practices, I still want to be there for the team,” Bates said.

She said trying to figure out parking has also been difficult.

“I was on crutches and it was super painful so I couldn’t walk or anything. I had to get a handicapped pass, temporary from the (Department of Motor Vehicles). I found out that I could use that on campus but I’d have to pay for a certain parking pass to do that so that was another big cost for me,” Bates said.

“I had to figure that out on my own,” she said.

Hardy said indication of injuries often depends on past injuries.

“So if we bring in a freshman that’s been injured all their career, then guess what, my guess is that they’re probably gonna be injured here. Once they get injured here, it increases the chance of getting re-injured,” he said.

Hardy said the type of injury usually depends on the sport.

“Three years ago, with our women’s soccer team, it seemed like everybody had MCL issues…knee injury issues. This year, it seems like it’s ankle stuff,” he said.

Men’s basketball player Neiman Lee was injured the first day of pre-season training and lost the rest of his season.

“When I went to change direction, my knee just kind of buckled and everything just took care of itself,” said Lee, junior biomedical major who has injured his other knee in the past.

Lee said the school has helped him deal with his injury.

“They helped me get my range of motion back before surgery…the better I am going into surgery, the better I am coming out. They’ve done a really good job of getting my range of motion back, extension…building up a little more strength now, too,” he said.

“I’m supposed to be on crutches for like three more weeks, but my doctor said I can get off the crutches cause my range of motion is actually really good. Or better than what they expected,” Lee said.

He said the school has responded quickly when he’s feeling pain.

“I just think they do a good job; they’re like really available and they’re like, whenever I do need help, like if I’m feeling any kind of pain…they’re really good with communication as well,” Lee said.

“When I’m having some kind of pain or anything like that, they respond pretty fast. And they’re all hands-on too, it’s not just like one person, they have like a lot of people in the training room too, so they all help me out,” he said.

Hardy said it’s difficult to implement injury prevention across the teams.

“How do you know what to prevent when you don’t know what’s going to happen?” he said. “In general, we tend to look at standards of practice, so it’s not like our athletes just walk out onto the court and start playing,” he said.

Those standards of practice start in the weight room, Hardy said, where athletes use baseline testing and ankle and shoulder strengthening to prepare for competition.

For those that do get injured, Hardy said range of motion, strengthening and ice are some treatments the department provides.

He said if an injury is outside their expertise, physicians come to campus on a weekly basis or the department will refer athletes to outside physicians.

Bates transferred from CU-Boulder and said anything injured athletes needed there was covered.

“We don’t have, (UCCS) itself doesn’t really have the best training facility that some of the other universities I think have and that’s difficult because then you have to find which doctors can get you what you need,” Bates said.