Sports Medicine Program to Support Student Athletes
(Caption: Nash UNC Health Care Sports Medicine athletic trainer Ashlee Dunlevy wraps student athlete Colin Johnson’s ankle during a Southern Nash High School track meet.)
Nash UNC Health Care, Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, and UNC Orthopedics at Nash continue to work together to offer a sports medicine program for student-athletes at Nash County Public Schools (NCPS). The program was established in 2019.
“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 L. Lee Isley, president and CEO of Nash UNC Health Care. “The program provides student-athletes with easy access to athletic training services and local physicians throughout the year, which allows them to treat injuries efficiently and effectively. We are excited to start another school year with this program in the place that allows us the privilege of caring for many of our community’s student-athletes.”
The athletic trainer provided by the program, Ashlee Dunlevy, has a bachelor's degree in 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 NCPS athletic director. She assesses student-athlete injuries to determine the proper course of treatment. Dunlevy also 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.
The program is designed to positively impact student-athletes and their parents by making access to needed care more convenient and decreasing time missed from school and work.
"Many sports-related injuries can be cared for with specific exercises done at the school, with the help of an athletic trainer. Being available to the students regularly means that these students and their parents won't always have to take the time out of their day to go a doctor's office or clinic to find the care they need,” said Dunlevy.
If the student has a more serious injury, Dunlevy can refer the student to physicians at Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, UNC Orthopedics at Nash, 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," said Dunlevy.
The school district’s Athletic Director Angie Miller coordinates Dunlevy’s schedule of which games and practices to attend each week, in coordination with other medical professionals such as paramedics to provide coverage across the school system’s athletic activities.
“Not only do our students benefit from having an on-site athletic trainer, but our coaches see the benefits too,” said Miller.. “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 reinjure themselves can all add stress and take time away from coaching the other students.”
In an effort to reduce the risk of re-injury, the trainer and student athlete relationship continues well beyond the immediate injury response, Dunlevy explained.
“It takes time to heal from a sports-related injury,” she said. “Taking extra precautions and continued follow-up care are important to make sure the student doesn’t stop physical therapy too early or become susceptible to re-injury,” said Dunlevy. “I am eager to work with our student-athletes again this year and I am thankful for the impact this program makes in our community.”