A Community-Based Pilot Program to Prevent Overuse Injuries in High School Runners by Educating and Engaging Their Parents

Document Type



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Publication Date

Spring 2022

Date of Final Presentation


Committee Chair

Sara Ahten, DNP, RN, NC-BC

Committee Member

Karmin Maher-Hasse, DNP, RN

Coordinator/ Chair of DNP Program

Pamela Gehrke, Ed.D., RN

Abstract/ Executive Summary

Problem Description: With over half of the injuries sustained by children when playing sports being overuse injuries, there is an opportunity to decrease these injuries. Physical therapists and physicians in Anchorage, Alaska, have noted an increase in overuse injuries in athletes specializing in one sport, including high school runners. Athletes, parents, and coaches of high school runners have stated that they do not possess the knowledge to decrease these overuse injuries and that there is no current program in place to address this issue.

Rationale: This DNP scholarly project implemented a community-based pilot program that focused on the education of the parents of high school runners on the prevention of overuse injuries. The conceptual framework guiding this project development is the health promotion framework, which is part of the behavioral change theory. A logic model including short, intermediate, and long-term outcomes was used as the project framework.

Interventions: The program offered three running specific educational modules delivered in three one-hour sessions. While factors like a global pandemic impacted the ability to deliver the sessions in person, all content was delivered in live video sessions and recorded. The ability to record the live sessions allowed participants who could not attend one or more of the live sessions to attend at their convenience and continue participating in the project. This flexibility contributed to the achievement of the project’s desired outcomes.

Results: All module outcomes were achieved, and learning occurred in all three educational modules, as evidenced by participants scoring a 70% or greater on the post-test or raising their pre- to post-test score by 20%. Across the three educational modules, participant pre- to post-test improvement scores ranged from 11%-80%. All participants indicated that this project and similar education in the future would be valuable in guiding adolescent athletes.

Summary: This pilot project aimed to provide the parents of high school runners with targeted, sport-specific information on the signs, symptoms, and possible causes of overuse running injuries in their children and potential solutions to prevent those injuries. Every participant raised their knowledge level and indicated they felt more confident in understanding and recognizing anatomical and biomechanical factors that might predispose an adolescent athlete to running-related injuries. Injury prevention programs should be encouraged for all adolescent athletes, but additional research is needed to direct sport-specific injury prevention programs.

Conclusion: The SP has proven useful in starting meaningful conversations and creating awareness about overuse injuries in children and the value of incorporating IPPs for children involved in sports activities. In the future, efforts should be made to promote injury prevention programs for adolescents that could decrease overuse injuries. With the template developed in the pilot project, there is potential to apply the modules to any athletic environment. Any physical therapist, coach, or athletic trainer can develop topics in their areas of interest and expertise.

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