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Roles Of Nursing Professionals In Sports Teams

Nursing Professionals: Injuries are inevitable in sports, and that is why sports teams need seasoned professionals who can help them prevent, manage, and treat these injuries when they occur. These professionals assist sports teams by managing their physical health and stabilizing the mental health of everyone on the team.

A nursing professional in sports teams, popularly known as a sports nurse, is a registered nurse who is skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related injuries. These nursing professionals work closely with physicians to ensure that sportsmen recover fully from their injuries and return to their respective sports.

Sports nurses must have knowledge of common nursing acronyms, such as PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome)  intervention and SPICES (Social, Psychological, Intellectual, Cultural, Environmental, Spiritual) intervention that helps them create personalized care for the unique needs of each athlete. Reputable universities, such as Marymount University, offer the online ABSN as an entry-level option for students with non-nursing undergraduate degrees, with the option to become sports nurses in the future. Furthermore, you can complete the online ABSN in only 16 months. You get 100% online courses on topics such as research and evidence-based practice, along with hands-on residency and clinical experiences. This article is a guide that shows you the major role nursing professionals play in assisting sports teams and how they do so.

Eight Roles Of Nursing Professionals In Sport Teams

Athletes are prone to injury, which is why nurses are a vital asset to any sports team. These are some of the role sports nurses play:

First Aid And Injury Assessment

Nursing professionals assess athletes’ injuries and offer first aid when needed. They provide immediate care and implement the needed interventions to save an athlete’s life. Injuries are a natural occurrence among athletes in a team, so it’s important to have a professional who can attend to these injuries before more specialized treatment can be available.

Nursing professionals are also skilled enough to assess the nature and extent of an injury sustained by an athlete. They do this by using the TOTAPS method (talk, observe, touch, active movement, passive movement, and skills test). The first letter, “talk,” tells nurses to converse with the injured athlete. Nurses will ask athletes how they feel and pose specific questions such as, “Can you move your legs?” “Does your head hurt?” and “Are you feeling pain in any other area?” The second step is to observe. Nurses will check to see if the injured site is different from its opposite. For instance, an athlete’s left wrist might be noticeably swollen compared to their right wrist.

Then there’s the “touch.” Nurses will gently palpate the injured area. They may carefully touch the swollen left wrist to know if it’s broken or just a sprain. The next part—active movement—is only necessary when the last three steps don’t work. Nurses can ask athletes to move their injured site to know if they have control of their injured area or if it’s too painful or restricted to move without help.

If they don’t have control, nurses move to the next step—passive movement. This involves comparing their movement range within normal limits and checking if they have power and coordination in their injured area. If an athlete hurts their upper limb, nurses can ask them to squeeze their hands to compare the difference between the injured and uninjured site. If there’s a noticeable difference, it could mean a more severe injury, and the nurse might seek specialist assistance.

The last step is only necessary when the athlete shows no sign of pain during the other procedures. The skill test entails asking the athlete to stand and perform their required skills in the competition. Nurses will start gently, and slowly move on to the more tasking skills. It’s crucial to stop at any point of these procedures where the athlete shows pain and get medical help immediately. This method is simply to help nurses assess the degree of the injury and to also decide on the kind of first aid to perform on the athlete.

Assessing an injury correctly increases the chance of an athlete’s full recovery by minimizing the damage done to the ligaments, joints, muscles, and tendons.

Concussion Management

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a force injury to the head. In severe cases, a concussion can be caused by possible bleeding in the brain. This injury comes with headaches and problems with memory, coordination, and balance.

Properly managing and diagnosing a concussion helps in keeping athletes safe. A nursing professional works together with a physiotherapist and other medical professionals on the sports team to effectively manage concussion.

As a nurse, the first thing to do when treating concussions is to move the injured athlete to a safe place. Then, try to stimulate the patient’s brain by asking them relevant questions. Ask them what their name is, where they live, and if they can hear you. Stimulating their brain can bring back their uncoordinated memory. You can also manage concussions in athletes by making their ABC pathway stable.

The ABC pathway is their Airway, Breathing, and Circulation pathway. Stabilizing the ABC pathway helps restore a stable breathing pattern and ensures they get an adequate oxygen supply to the brain. When stabilizing, there are three major steps you should take:

  • Clear the airway. Any obstruction can lead to inadequate oxygenation, which is detrimental, especially when the brain is already stressed from the injury
  • Check their breathing once the airway is secured. Monitor and support respiratory efforts to ensure that the lungs are effectively oxygenating the blood. You can also provide assistance such as supplemental oxygen so that the brain receives enough oxygen.
  • Lastly, ensure circulation. Make sure the blood is effectively carrying oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. Concussions can cause disruption in the normal blood flow to the brain.

Hydration and Nutrition

Another important role nursing professionals play in sports teams is making sure that the athletes are hydrated and well-nourished. During exercise, the body temperature of athletes rises, causing them to lose more body fluid while sweating. These athletes must take enough water to replace the amount of body fluid lost while exercising. This helps to avoid dehydration. Dehydration in athletes often leads to increased fatigue and poor concentration, which can adversely affect the efficiency of the team.

Nursing professionals in sports teams can help monitor hydration in athletes by calculating their sweat rate. Monitoring their hydration rate helps nurses know how much athletes sweat after each exercise.

Nursing professionals also ensure athletes follow diets that are up to standard. Good nutrition enhances the general sporting performance of athletes. Sports nurses can create a well-planned food timetable that meets each athlete’s energy, vitamin, and mineral needs.

Preventive Care

Athletes are expected to be fit at all times. They need to be medically cleared to engage in their sport. This is where sports nurses come in. These professionals provide preventative care that ensures the athletes are healthy. It minimizes their risks of getting injured and also helps increase their performance on the field.

An essential skill for a sports nurse is the ability to properly educate patients about their health and how their actions can affect their state of health. Nurses provide preventive care for athletes by educating them about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through safety and injury prevention. They teach athletes how to take care of their bodies to prevent a range of health issues and diseases.

Another way sports nurses can provide preventive care for athletes is to regularly assess each of the players on their team. To achieve this, the sports nurse would need to conduct screening exercises that check for any imbalance in the athlete’s body. They can also recommend some techniques, such as warm-up and cool-down exercises, that can help to keep the athletes fit and avoid common sports-related injuries such as sprains or strains.

Provide Holistic Health

Holistic care in nursing doesn’t only focus on physical well-being. It provides a mutual understanding of their social, physical, emotional, and psychological health. This type of treatment focuses on the good health of the mind, soul, and body. It combines pharmacological therapy, physical therapy, and traditional methods such as acupuncture to treat patients holistically.

Including a holistic approach to sports medicine can help an athlete reach peak performance in their sport regardless of age. When providing holistic care, sports nurses consider the personalized needs of each athlete. They assess the physical components such as stamina and also the overall health that can affect issues such as core stability in the athletes.

They then find ways to improve these issues. They may monitor an athlete’s diet to help improve their stamina. Nurses also collaborate with other medical practitioners to ensure the well-being of athletes. An athlete with a fractured leg, for instance, would have a physiotherapist to monitor their physical therapy and a physiologist to provide therapies that can stabilize their emotional state. Nurses may also invite a personal trainer to provide various kinds of training, such as resistance training, to help put them back in shape.

Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy

Injuries, no matter how serious, are an inevitable aspect of sports. Many athletes may need physical therapy after a serious injury. That is why nursing professionals must work hand in hand with physiotherapists to ensure the quick recovery of athletes after each injury. Physiotherapists work in health and rehab facilities to get each and every athlete with an injury back on their feet.

They implement rehabilitation programs that help the athletes regain strength and flexibility while minimizing the risk of the injury reoccurring. To achieve this, they provide therapy exercises, manual therapy techniques, and modalities such as cold, heat, or electrical stimulation that can help hasten tissue healing and increase the athlete’s mobility. This helps the patient to achieve optimal recovery outcomes.

Nurses can also conduct a series of evaluations that check the athlete’s musculoskeletal system, speed, and strength. This helps in identifying specific areas of the athlete’s body that require therapeutic interventions. It can also help the nurse create individualized physical therapy that meets the unique needs of the athletes.

Medication Management

Sports nurses are in charge of monitoring and managing the medications prescribed to athletes by the sports medicine physician. This ensures that they provide clear and concise information on the right dosage, frequency, and interaction with other medications.

Sports nurses are responsible for ensuring athletes receive appropriate medications to manage pain, inflammation, and other injuries related to sports. They also ensure that these athletes are educated about the possible side effects of some medications.

They must also check the medical history of athletes before administering medications to them. Checking athletes’ medical histories informs nurses of how each athlete reacts to certain types of medications. Knowing this is crucial when you need to avoid allergic reactions. It’ll also help nurses keep athletes in check. Managing their medication helps nurses monitor and ensure they stick to their prescribed treatment plan. This way, nurses can implement strategies in sports teams that can help promote safe medication practice within the team and minimize the misuse of drugs among athletes.

Advocation

Nursing professionals can be more than carers; they can also serve as advocates for other team members, including the athletes, the coach, and other members. They do this by creating a positive environment that allows everyone to publicly disclose their health concerns.

They then serve as a middleman between the members of the sports team and other medical professionals and relay these concerns to the medical practitioners. It creates a better, more comprehensive wellness program that suits the sports team members.

Nurses can also advocate by educating athletes on various ways they can improve their overall fitness, such as by providing tips on activities they can do to avoid burnout or increased fatigue.

Conclusion 

All sports teams must have a registered nursing professional who can help monitor and manage the health of athletes on the team. Having a sports nurse as a member of the team increases athletes’ chances of having a career term with minimal and reduced injuries, managed medications, and proper first aid, among other benefits.

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