Published on September 16, 2019

Sports medicine program to aid student athletes

By Amelia Harper

Staff Writer, Rocky Mount Telegram

Ashlee Dunlevy, Athletic Trainer 

Nash UNC Health Care, Carolina Regional Orthopaedics and UNC Orthopedics at Nash have teamed up to offer a sports medicine program for student athletes at Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

“The Nash UNC Health Care Sports Medicine Program is a collaboration of our community hospital and orthopedic surgeons to offer student athletes the best possible care when faced with a sports-related injury,” said Lee Isley, president and CEO of Nash UNC Health Care. “Student athletes will have easy access to athletic training services and local physicians throughout the year, which allows them to treat injury efficiently and effectively.”

The athletic trainer provided by this program, Ashlee Dunlevy, has a bachelor’s degree in both athletic training and sports medicine. She has been a certified athletic trainer by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association since 2017.

Dunlevy attends games, practices and trainings, as directed by the Nash-Rocky Mount athletic director. Dunlevy assesses any injuries the student athletes may have to determine the proper course of treatment. She consults with the school and the coaching staff, coordinates care with orthopedic providers when needed, provides care and training services to the athletes and answers any injury-related questions the students, staff or parents may have.

Dunlevy said program is designed to positively impact the student athletes and their parents by making access to needed care more convenient and less time consuming.

“Many sports-related injuries can be cared for with specific exercises that can be done at the school, with the help of an athletic trainer,” she said. “Being available to the students on a regular basis means that these students and their parents won’t always have to take the time out of their day to go to the doctor’s office or find the care they need.”

If the student has a more serious injury, Dunlevy can refer the student to physicians at UNC Orthopedics at Nash, Carolina Regional Orthopaedics or an appropriate medical provider.

“This program allows me to work with orthopedic providers in our community so that all the expertise and specialties of the physicians are available to these students quickly in the case of an injury,” Dunlevy said.

The school district’s athletic director will determine the schedule that will dictate when and where Dunlevy will be on a weekly basis and which games she will attend.

“Not only do our students benefit from having an on-site athletic trainer, but our coaches will see the benefit, too,” said Angie Miller, athletic director for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. “It takes a lot of time away from the coaches when we have an injured student. Communicating with parents, determining when the student can play again, and making sure the student doesn’t re-injure themselves can all add stress and take time away from focusing on coaching the other students.”

To ensure that the student doesn’t re-injure themselves, the athletic trainer provides continuous follow-up care to the student after the initial care has taken place.

“It takes time to heal from a sports-related injury. Taking extra precautions and continued follow-up care is important to make sure the student doesn’t stop physical therapy too early and become susceptible to re-injury,” Dunlevy said.

The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education approved the contract at a special called meeting in August.

Miller explained that the core idea had been used last year at games.

“We have first responders at all our high school and middle school games by season and that is through Nash-Rocky Mount athletics. We were offered something through the hospital and Carolina Regional Orthopedics last year at no cost to us. It turned out to be outstanding,” Miller said at the school board meeting.

The new contract developed over the summer is an expansion of that idea, Miller said.

“We are hoping to grow this. In my vision, I think this is a big growth because we have a lot more local people involved,” Miller said. “I hope we can eventually grow into the middle schools with this program.”

Miller said the contract offers financial savings to parents.

“It is a great savings for our local community and parents because they get the information out to the parents and it gives them a resource and access outside the regular hours for the emergency room without them having to pay that cost,” Miller said.

However, parents will still have the option to choose where their child is cared for if they are injured during a game.

“The parents will still get to choose where their child goes This just give them a resource, if they choose to use it, without having to pay that extra cost,” Miller said.

Miller said that the contract also will benefit the school district.

“This is at zero cost to us and will allow for more people to be working the sidelines at games,” she said.

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