By Mo Nuwwarah, Sports/Health Editor
Most students know they need to hightail it to the emergency room with a broken arm or a severely bleeding cut. But less serious injuries can leave students playing guessing games with their health.
Injury Prevention and Care, located in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation building, tries to eliminate this guesswork. The staff provides medical services from basic first aid to injury rehabilitation.
The services are mostly free and available to any student hurt in an athletic endeavor or seeking to return to athletic pursuits, said Tycee Strawmier, director of IPC.
“For most college students, it’s their first time away from parents and first time out on their own,” she said. “They’ve never had to make those, ‘Do I go to a doctor or do I wait this out?’ decisions before.”
About 20 percent of college students have no medical insurance, according to a USA Today story published last August. A severe injury or serious illness could pile a crushing load of debt onto them.
Strawmier said many of the students IPC helps fall into that category.
“If we can help them save a bill, then we’ll do that,” she said. “From a recreational standpoint, we’re a really good addition to all of the resources in building.”
Services offered at IPC include ice, heat, stretching, injury rehabilitation, taping, first aid, crutch checkout and injury evaluation.
“Injury evaluation is probably the service our students take the most advantage of,” Strawmier said.
The number of students using these services has increased dramatically with the September 2010 move to an office near the front desk of the HPER building. An average of 443 students per month received aid at IPC in the 2010-11 school year, a huge increase from the roughly 200 per month who received aid the previous year.
IPC also partners with Student Health Services to refer students with certain serious injuries to Dr. Michael Walsh, an orthopedic surgeon at OrthoWest. After their operations, the students then return to IPC for their rehab.
The staff, which includes two athletic trainers and eight student employees, has numerous tools at its disposal, including recent additions of an extremity whirlpool and an ultrasound/electronic-stimulation unit.
IPC was established in 2005. Since then it’s evolved from what Strawmier called “limited” hours and service to being open full building hours during the school year with a certified athletic trainer available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“One of the mottos we follow is that not all athletes wear jerseys,” Strawmier said. “We’re here to serve the general student population.”