STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – As football season gets underway, Oklahoma State University is using a virtual mentoring and educational network to teach trainers and other sports medicine providers at schools across the state.

OSU says it’s all about best practice health care for student athletes.

“There’s a reason they’re playing sports in the first place,” Executive Director for the Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute Lance Walker said. “They’re not having any fun if they’re getting injured, right? So, let’s get them back safely, effectively and properly.”

Walker said ECHO training can help do just that.

“What we’re doing here is a health extension in a more virtual way,” he said.

It’s virtual training for trainers, sports medicine providers, doctors, and even parents to spot and deal with concussions and any other sports injuries. Then, it comes down to understand what’s involved in healing and rehab. It’s also about training for athletes and keeping them away from injuries in the first place.

“Literally surround them with a team of experts to elevate them, to really empower and support them in their day to day practice,” Walker said.

Their research shows 55 percent of pediatric athletes who suffer concussions are not seen by a medical professional. Also, concussions make up 15 percent of all reported sports related trauma in high school. However, that same data shows this number is an underestimate due to the lack of self-reporting by student-athletes of their concussion symptoms or the lack of recognition of the injury by coaches, parents or health care professionals.

“We’ve learned so much, even just in the last four or five years about concussion and concussion specifically in the younger athletes that we’re seeing a rise on that,” Walker said.

Walker said the training is also a massive deal for those in rural areas of the state. Those residents may not have the same access to this kind of information or even have enough staff to take care of their kids.

“Imagine, if you will, a provider in a rural community in the state of Oklahoma that would love to have access to all the great things and access points that we have right here on campus for our elite athletes,” Walker said. “Let’s bring that to them virtually through this extension.”

In the end, Walker hopes that the best practice training ECHO provides results in healthier athletes in the long term.

“They’re going to have a better chance of being an active, healthier adult potentially,” he added.

Walker said trainers, physicians, coaches and even administrators from over 40 of the 77 counties have been represented in the virtual training.

“The second and fourth Wednesday of every month we have this athletic training, sports medicine, echo, and it’s open to the public,” he noted. “You can sign up and register online on Project Echo or go to the website and get involved. You can either get involved as just an innocent bystander in the background. If you’ve got an athletic trainer in your school and has not heard about Echo, please alert them that this is happening. This is a great resource for them.”

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