March 19, 2015

Diamond advocates nationally for youth sports health, safety

Alex Diamond, D.O., MPH, will participate in two national meetings to improve health and safety in youth sports. (Photo by John Russell)

Alex Diamond, D.O., MPH, director of the Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports (PIPYS) and assistant professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, continues to be a national advocate for youth sports safety.

Representing the American Academy of Pediatrics, he was part of an 11-person workgroup charged with developing a national consensus statement addressing psychological concerns in secondary school student athletes. The statement was released March 2 at the Sixth Youth Sports Safety Summit in Dallas, hosted by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, and also published in the Journal of Athletic Training.

An estimated 7.7 million secondary school students participate in sports. A struggling performance, injuries, conflicts with coaches and teammates and loss of passion for the sport can put an athlete at risk for experiencing a psychological concern or exacerbating an existing mental health issue.

“Adolescence in and of itself is a difficult time for many, and for all the benefits that sports participation provides, there are additional potential stressors these young athletes face. We need to do a better job of recognizing and getting them in the hands of the proper mental health professionals,” Diamond said.

Diamond is also representing the state of Tennessee at the first Collaborative Solutions for Safety in Sport meeting, March 26-27 at the NFL headquarters in New York City. Mark Reeves, assistant executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), will also attend.

The summit will bring together sports medicine experts and stakeholders in high school athletics from across the country to discuss and promote implementation of health and safety best practices. Topics include heat-related illness, sudden cardiac arrest, head and neck injuries and exertional sickling (a condition in athletes carrying sickle cell trait).

“This is a unique opportunity for all of us committed to the well-being of secondary school athletes to learn and share ideas in order to further enhance safety and reduce the risk of injury,” Diamond said.

“The TSSAA places the highest priority on the health and welfare of its student-athletes, and I’m very honored to be joining them in representing Tennessee in this collaborative endeavor and grateful to the sponsors of this meeting.”

The meeting is co-hosted by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, in conjunction with the NFL Health and Safety Division and the Korey Stringer Institute.