Lee Memorial starts program for physical therapy students

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- High school athletes offer suffer from concussions, broken bones, and torn ligaments throughout the season.

This year alone, Lee Memorial Hospital has seen 36 high school athletes with concussions; 29 of those are football related.

“Two years ago, we had for the entire school year, probably about 77 concussions, so we’re right on track with what we would probably normally see in the area,” said Mark Tesoro, an analyst at the Lee Memorial trauma center.

Lee Memorial Health Systems teamed up with the Lee County School District to send seven certified athletic trainers to the 13 public high schools in the county.

“In our case, we’re recognizing the symptoms and evaluate them and determine whether or not they can return to play and then go from there. But if it’s not recognized immediately, you run the risk of a second impact in that type of situation,” said trainer Jessica Pasternack.

The trainers are at school for nearly every practice and every game, working on injury prevention, treatment, rehab, and also teaching student interns how to do the same.

“They enjoy it. We have a few students in our group that are actually looking to become physical therapists or athletic trainers and are looking to get into the medical field,” said Pasternack.

The student athletic trainers put in hundreds of volunteer hours to make sure their friends at school don’t get hurt on the field, court, mound, you name it.

“I learned a lot. You know how to tape… but it was mostly about working as a team.”

“A kid will never tell you, ‘I have a concussion.’ As an athlete, yourself, you know this. They will lose a limb before they take themselves out of the game,” said Tesoro.

Lee Memorial also just received a grant to buy injury tracking software. Now, they will be able to test athletes before the season, so they have a baseline to compare to if and when an athlete gets hurt.

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