Justin Sportsmedicine Team offers rodeo contestants comprehensive medical care
When the Justin Sportsmedicine Team is at a rodeo, contestants know they will be treated as professional athletes and have the finest medical care available.
They know that any nagging injuries, bumps and bruises will be given the attention necessary to keep them competing with the best available resources for injury prevention. In the event of an injury, they rest assured that it will be treated comprehensively with the mission of getting them back in the arena as quickly as possible. That is exactly what the program was designed to do over 30 years ago when it was founded and funded by the Justin Boot Company andstarted at just 10 rodeos as the official healthcare provider of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
In 2014, the Justin Sportsmedicine Team traveled coast to coast providing services to 120 rodeos covering over 535 performances. Throughout the year, they provided more than 7,400 treatments while recording over 1,000 new injuries. Essentially this equates to one and a half tons of ice, 200 miles of tape, and 3,000 hours of service.
The success of the program can easily be measured by the reduction in occurrence and severity of injuries. Rodeo contestants, like other athletes, get hurt. Injury prevention has been taught and stressed, but injuries are a fact of life in the arena. Preventing those injuries and then treating them when they do occur Is the core of the program. It means contestants can be more competitive and spend less time on the bench. This is very important to their livelihoods because if they aren’t competing, they aren’t making money.
At the 2014 NFR over a third of the 119 contestants, including the other WNFR contract personnel, received care totaling almost 560 treatments, 41 new injuries and numerous illnesses. These numbers, as well as keeping the rodeo athletes competing, confirm the value and necessity of the Justin Sportsmedicine Team.
“I couldn’t do what I do without the Justin Sportsmedicine Team,” said Bobby Mote, four-time world champion bareback rider. “They’ve helped me through injuries, kept me healthy and made it so that I can stay competitive. I always look to see if they are going to be there when I enter a rodeo. It makes a huge difference.”
While the Justin Sportsmedicine Team utilizes full-time staff with a variety of medical backgrounds, they rely on local volunteers to make it successful. At many rodeos, they work out of a mobile medical unit that has x-ray viewing capabilities, high-tech therapeutic equipment, and all of the necessary treatment and rehabilitation supplies needed.
The on-site program manager coordinates all of the care with a network of selected doctors, athletic trainers, physical therapists, hospitals and clinics to provide comprehensive care for any medical need.
“Coordinating our program with local medical doctors is definitely instrumental in our team’s success,” said Rick Foster, director for the Justin Sportsmedicine Team. “First of all, it gives us the opportunity to provide the type of healthcare these rodeo contestants need. Then, in the case of an injury, we already know where to send them locally and have medical personnel that have relationships in the community. It makes it so much easier for the contestants and helps us provide the quality care so deserving to our rodeo athletes.”
Customized injury-reporting software is used to give accurate exchange of information regarding treatments and injuries. It also allows for the team to research and evaluate injury information within rodeo. Then any member of the team in any location can follow up with the athletes.
“We have definitely seen a decrease in the occurrence and severity of injuries,” said Mike Rich, executive director of the program. “We’ve also had an increase in the number of treatments that we are providing. This tells us more contestants are utilizing the program with greater benefits.”
Local committees from across the United States are an integral part of the program as well. The cooperation between staff, volunteers and members of the committee all add up to a program that has changed rodeo for the better.
“We have built relationships with the medical community, local committee members and the contestants that are long standing,” added Rich who took over the program five years ago. “This program has many parts and without each one of those parts we wouldn’t have seen the growth or success that we have had.”
Rodeo contestants pay to compete, and in order to earn any money in the arena they have to be healthy. In the event of a serious injury incomes can be dramatically affected. That is where the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund steps in. The charitable organization is able to provide 100 percent of all contributions for use by injured contestants to help them pay their bills until they can be competitive again. The crisis fund is able to do this because all administrative costs are paid by the Justin Boot Company.
“The two organizations work hand-in-hand,” Foster said. “In the event of an injury, we can help them with their medical needs and get them back in the arena as quickly and safely as possible. The Crisis Fund helps them pay their bills and take some of their worries away. Both programs show how much Justin Boots cares about the people involved in rodeo.”
–Justin Sportsmedicine Team
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