The Student Athlete Injury Toolkit

The public health issue: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 1,008,000 young adults and adolescents between the ages of 12 and 25 misused opioid pain medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone in 2016. Within this broad population, students who participate in sports may have a higher risk of misusing opioids due to their increased likelihood of being injured and directly receiving opioid prescriptions. Further contributing to this vulnerability is: a lack of education about the risks associated with taking opioid medications; neurobiological factors such as an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex; internal and external pressures to get back on the field post-injury; and negative psychological consequences resulting from the injury.

Our contribution to the solution: This project serves to address a gap in information that will enable families and caretakers to make informed decisions regarding pain treatment and management following a sports injury. With generous support from the AmerisourceBergen Foundation, our multidisciplinary team in the Research & Evaluation Group (R&E Group) at Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) developed a Pain Management & Prescription Misuse Prevention Toolkit for Student Athletes after Sports-Related Injuries (“the Student Athlete Injury Toolkit”). Not only does the Student Athlete Injury Toolkit assist student athletes and their caretakers in making informed decisions regarding opioid use and pain management, it also guides caretakers on how to holistically support students in their recovery. Included in this toolkit, is fact sheet for athletic coaches that helps increase their awareness of the issue and provides them with tips on how they can play a proactive role in preventing opioid misuse among their athletes.

The Toolkit is available for public use and includes five resources outlined and linked below.

This white paper serves as a comprehensive overview of key considerations for student athletes, their parents/guardians, and their coaches and others who may be impacted by or involved with treatment of sports injuries sustained by student athletes.

This one-pager is designed as a brief, accessible resource for student athletes and their parents/guardians to have on-hand while discussing treatment options after a sports injury with a doctor, surgeon, or other medical professional. It includes key facts about opioid pain relievers, and questions to ask a medical professional before accepting and using an opioid prescription.

This four-pager for student athletes includes the same information as in Opioid Fast Facts, and additional information about proper steps to take after a sports injury or the onset of pain, at-home pain management options, and other considerations that are relevant to injury recovery, like staying on top of schoolwork and maintaining emotional health during recovery.

This four-pager for parents/guardians of student athletes discusses options for supporting injured athletes in their treatment and pain management, addressing emotional well-being during injury recovery, seeking school-related accommodations and support, and recognizing signs of opioid misuse.

This two-pager for coaches of student athletes addresses injury prevention, opportunities to address responsible pain management with players and prevent opioid misuse, supporting injured athletes during injury recovery, and recognizing signs of opioid misuse.