First Aid for Sports Injuries - the Critical First 3 Minutes
Brad Walker provides advice on the actions to take in those first few critical moments following an injury.
A lot has been written over the years about sports injury management and ongoing treatment. There is a lot of information about what to do in the first 48 to 72 hours after an injury, and without a doubt, the most effective, initial treatment for soft tissue injury is the RICER regime. This involves the application of (R) rest, (I) ice, (C) compression, (E) elevation, and obtaining an (R) referral for appropriate medical treatment.
Most people would agree that the R.I.C.E.R. regime is the first place to start, but what about those initial moments following the injury. Those first few vital minutes, before you even think about applying the R.I.C.E.R. regime.
You are the sports trainer for a local "Under 14's" soccer team (or maybe you are a concerned parent). It is early on a cold winter's morning, and the team has been on the field for only a few minutes. You turn your back for a second as two players race for the ball and collide heavily. One goes down hard and groans loudly. You turn back to see one of your players lying motionless on the ground. You race onto the field, heading straight for the injured player. There is no time to waste, and your 3 minutes have already started. What do you do next?
Your First Priority: Do No Further Damage!
Check to see if the injured player is in any further danger. If so, you need to control it, preferably by removing the danger (i.e. stopping the game) or removing the player.
Once there is no more danger to the player, you need to get a response from them. Ask if they
If you cannot get a response, get someone to call an ambulance or doctor immediately. Then check their airway, breathing, and circulation.
If you can get a response, apply the S.T.O.P. regime. This involves (S) stop, (T) talk, (O) observe, and (P) prevent further damage.
Stop the injured player from moving! They must stay as still as possible to prevent further damage and allow you to assess the injury.
Ask the injured player what happened
While talking to the injured player take a mental note of what the player is doing
Check to see
Prevent further damage
It is time to assess the seriousness of the injury.
Is it a minor injury?
Is it a less severe injury?
3. Is it a severe injury?
Your 3 minutes are up, and you have successfully prevented any further damage to the injured player, you have assessed the injury and prescribed the recommended treatment strategy.
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About the Author
Brad Walker is a prominent Australian sports trainer with more than 15 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. Brad is a Health Science graduate of the University of New England and has postgraduate accreditations in athletics, swimming, and triathlon coaching. He also works with elite level and world champion athletes and lectures for Sports Medicine Australia on injury prevention.