During Quakertown Community School District’s school board meeting Oct. 10 the parents of a recently injured football player fought back tears while requesting better measures be taken for injured players during games.
Richard and Angela Smith of Milford, the parents of injured senior Phil Smith, pleaded with school officials to come up with better policies and procedures involving injuries of players as well as better communication between trainers and parents.
Smith suffered a neck injury in the first quarter of the Sept. 20 game between Quakertown and Pocono Mountain East High School. He collided with another player, hitting his head, and falling to the ground.
He had reportedly difficulty returning to his feet afterwards but felt okay to return to the game. Smith’s parents said he went nearly two quarters of the game without being seen by a doctor and allegedly was told to “walk off” his injury.
A chiropractor who volunteers his time as one of the team’s doctors examined Smith and suggested his parents take him to the emergency room. However, Smith was not taken via ambulance or fitted with a neck brace, which was admittedly unavailable during the game.
Smith’s parents made the decision to walk their son to the family car, which was a bit of a distance away Angela Smith said, and drove to the hospital. Phil’s parents also said on the way to the car he stumbled and was later told by hospital staff he could have been paralyzed just by walking the distance to the car.
Testing at the hospital revealed a fracture of Smith’s C5 vertebrae and a previous injury to the C7 vertebrae. Doctors informed Smith and his parents if surgery was not performed immediately he could be paralyzed.
Angela and Richard Smith both agree they are very thankful their son had surgery and is not paralyzed; however, they don’t want any other athletes to be in this unfortunate situation.
“I think this needs to be taken very seriously with better communication and policies in place as to how to treat a child on the field with an injury,” Angela Smith stated.
The district reportedly does not have a current policy on suspected neck or upper body injuries. They do, however, have a strict concussion policy that states, “Any athlete who is suspected of having a concussion will be immediately removed from activity and not be permitted to return to sports that same day. Any athlete who sustains a concussion will not be permitted to return to sports until they have a written medical release with no limitations from the athlete’s physician.”
Although the district’s superintendent and board members did not comment on the Smith’s request during the meeting,
Superintendent Lisa Andrejko responded after the meeting to the issue via email.
“While we believe co-curricular activities are vital to our educational program, it is unfortunate when situations beyond our control occur. The parents have asked that we review our protocols and we will work with our school physician and trainers to do that. We continue to support Phil in his academic endeavors,” Andrejko said.