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Injury Care Clinic sees increase in visits

  • A photo of an athletic trainer working with a student.
  • A photo of an athletic trainer helping a student.
  • An athletic trainer works with a student at the Injury Care Clinic.
  • A photo of a model of the spine that sits in the Injury Care Clinic.

Posted on February 27, 2018

Louis Ricard, from Paris, has played rugby since he was 6 years old. During his first semester at Grand Valley, he eagerly joined the rugby club. A year later, he dislocated his elbow at a home game. 

An emergency room doctor put his elbow back in place, but said it would require rehabilitation — treatment his insurance did not cover. 

"I started going to the Injury Care Clinic and I'm so glad I did," said Ricard, a senior majoring in communications and multimedia journalism. "I was given exercises to do on my own to strengthen my elbow and the people who work there are very knowledgeable."

Ricard is just one of hundreds of individuals who receive help at the Injury Care Clinic, located in the Fieldhouse on the Allendale Campus. The clinic provides free injury care and preventative treatments for students, faculty and staff members. Primary services include first aid, injury evaluation, basic treatments and rehabilitation, professional referrals and preventive measures, such as taping, bracing and stretching.

Shari Bartz-Smith, co-director of the clinic and associate director and professor of athletic training, said the number of campus community members receiving treatment has increased since the clinic opened its doors in 2014. 

During its first semester, 258 individuals visited the clinic. Last semester, there were more than 900 visits by 410 campus community members. In four years, the clinic has received more than 5,000 visits. 

"We are busy, but in a good way," Bartz-Smith said. "Our challenge now is to meet the increasing demands of the clinic."

The clinic is staffed by two athletic trainers from Metro Health and a Grand Valley graduate assistant. The most common injuries clinic staff treat are ankle sprains, low back pain and chronic tendinitis conditions. 

Amy Campbell, co-director of the clinic and associate director of Campus Recreation, said a very active student population means a higher number of injuries. More than 2,000 students participate in club sports every year and hundreds of people visit the Rec Center each day. 

"The clinic is a free and accessible resource for students to find professional help," Campbell said. "Before the clinic existed, students with injuries would have to go to the emergency room or take a trip home to see their doctor, which is inconvenient and can get expensive."

Bartz-Smith and Campbell have presented at several conferences about the success of the Injury Care Clinic and colleagues from universities in the region have asked for guidance on how to establish a successful clinic. Most recently, the pair published a paper in Kinesiology Review about the framework needed to start a clinic. 

The clinic is a joint partnership between Metro Health and Grand Valley's Campus Recreation and Movement Science departments. During the academic year, the clinic is open from 2-6 p.m., Monday through Thursday.   

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