As an athletic trainer, you’ve dedicated your career to keeping athletes safe and healthy. From treating injuries and administering first aid to rehabilitating injured athletes, you do everything in your power to keep the players at the top of their game. But there might be one blind spot in your training protocol – infection prevention.
Why should an athletic trainer worry about germs?
While we all expect an injury or two every season, are you prepared for your best players and team leaders to be benched by a bout of serious illness? According to Kent State athletic trainer, Trent Statton, “At the end of the day, an infection can destroy a season.”
Germs lurking in locker rooms can seriously harm athletes, especially since athletic equipment and gear often serves as a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and mold. While some germs may just cause minor irritation, others can turn into career-ending or even deadly infections. Athletic trainers should be especially aware of MRSA and its potential to spread through close contact and shared gear.
Athletic trainers also rely on braces and other first aid gear that’s often used on multiple athletes throughout their lifespans. This medical equipment has the potential to harbor and nurture microbial growth that could get your athletes sick.
Infection Prevention Strategies
You know the best ways to wrap up a sprained ankle and rehab players after injuries, but you may not know the best way to protect them from serious illnesses. Prioritize players’ health by building comprehensive infection prevention plans to combat common locker room and equipment germs.
First and foremost, you should introduce and enforce a strict protocol for covering wounds. The most contagious and dangerous germs often spread through contact with open wounds. Using bandages, gauze and medical tape, ensure that all open cuts and wounds are completely covered, especially while wearing shared gear. Wounds should also be frequently examined to make sure they’re not infected.
You also need an effective disinfecting method to properly sanitize all gear, equipment, and medical devices. This includes everything from helmets and shoulder pads to foam rollers and ankle braces. In the past, you may have relied on liquid or aerosol disinfecting agents, but these methods often miss those hard-to-reach areas and can weaken the integrity of the gear itself. Instead, look for a powerful dry sanitizing solution that won’t miss any spots, or reduce the lifecycle of expensive gear.
Athletic Trainers as Athlete Advocates
Your athletes trust you to keep them healthy and in the game, so as a team leader you can – and should – speak up for their safety. As an advocate and safety specialist, you can urge coaches or your athletic director to get involved with the team’s health and safety practices.
In order to get the team on board with your infection prevention strategies, coaches and other team leaders should be echoing the need for sanitation during team meetings. You’ll need to train coaches about safety and disinfection standards, so they can do their part to keep the team game ready.
You may also be ready to purchase a sanitizing solution to disinfect all of the team’s gear and equipment – but you’ll need money for that. With coaches and your athletic director on board, you can show them the importance of disinfecting gear and ask them to invest part of the team budget into your infection prevention efforts. Even better, you can direct them to the Covid funding guide to see how you can use government funds to purchase a sanitizing system without dipping into already tight athletic budgets.
Protect Your Players
While you’re doing everything you can to create a safe environment for your players, sanitation and infection prevention efforts should be a part of your strategy. Otherwise, your team and their season could suffer.
With Sports-O-Zone, you can safely and effectively remove dangerous germs from gear and equipment using the power of ozone, an antimicrobial agent more powerful than chlorine bleach. On top of keeping your players safe, your gear and locker room will smell better than ever.
We’re here to help you find the right sanitizing solutions for your team — and to help you get it for free using Covid funding. Questions? Get in touch.