K-State offers services to help students overcome injuries, disabilities

Disability Support Services is located in Holton Hall, near Eisenhower Hall and Hale Library.

While college is filled with new experiences for students, injuries and pain can make the transition more difficult. Knowing a few simple steps to prevent common injuries and learning what to do when an injury occurs can help students perform better.

“We see many different types of injuries here at Lafene,” said Jeff Kreuser, certified athletic trainer at Lafene Health Center, in an email interview. “The students here at K-State are generally very physically active, so naturally some injuries will occur.”

Kreuser said some of the more common injuries he sees at Lafene are ankle sprains and knee injuries. These can occur from sports and other activities, but also from walking on uneven ground or sidewalks.

Kreuser said he recommended using braces or athletic tape to help prevent ankle injuries in activities that risk such injuries, like basketball. Knee injuries stemming from overuse are also common among people who run.

“You do not realize the high amount of repetitive contact that your knees absorb when running,” Kreuser said. “For these reasons, we here at Lafene physical therapy like to focus on good muscle balance in your legs and hips as well as making sure you are wearing proper footwear for the activity you are participating in. We will often perform a gait analysis when evaluating a patient by watching our patients walk and run.”

Another common injury or complaint among students is back pain. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reported that nearly 30,000 Americans were treated for injuries related to backpacks in 2010. Back pain and injuries often occur because of backpacks that are too heavy or that people use improperly, for example, by slinging the bag over only one shoulder or by wearing it too low on the back.

Carrying any bag, including a backpack, slung over one shoulder causes a person’s posture to change. The shoulder supporting the bag tends to tense up and raise higher than the other shoulder, twisting the entire body’s posture to one side. Over time, this can lead to back, shoulder and neck pain. Also, wearing a backpack too low causes the center of gravity to shift to the lower back, which can lead to bad posture, pain or injury.

The American Physical Therapy Association recommends using both shoulder straps to carry a backpack, and that shoulder straps be adjusted to keep the weight of the bag closer to the middle of the back, where the muscles tend to be stronger. In addition, it is recommended that students not carry more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight in a backpack.

Students who injure themselves or become ill have options for help and do not necessarily need to tough it out. Lafene Health Center can provide assistance for walk-ins, or students can also make an appointment with their doctor.

“If it’s a quick onset acute injury and you are unable to walk without a noticeable limp or are in constant significant pain, come in to get it checked out,” Kreuser said. “I would also like to remind those students who might injure themselves during the intramural sports seasons that there are certified athletic trainers who are available on the fields and courts during the games and are able to assess your injuries. They can be found by asking an intramural supervisor or by going to the center building at the Rec fields. Contact the Rec Complex staff if you are unable to find them and they will call them.”

For injuries or other issues that create long-term problems with mobility, such as a broken arm or leg, resources are available to help students get around campus more easily.

Disability Support Services offers many services to help students with all kinds of needs, including accessible parking, shuttle service, listening devices, sign language interpreters, tutoring, accommodations for tests and more.

Andrea Blair, director of Disability Support Services, said the three most common services requested are shuttle service, scribes for tests and assistant note takers. DSS can also work with professors to move classes to other buildings that are more accessible to injured or disabled students.

Knee or leg injuries and temporary disability resulting from surgery were some of the most common reasons students requested assistance, Blair said. Because of these injuries, the shuttle service offered by K-State was also very important to help students get from their home or dorm to classes. The ATA bus service helps provide this service.

“It truly is a service that K-State provides because there is no bus service right now at K-State for all students,” Blair said. “If there was, then the university would be required to make sure the transportation was accessible for those with disabilities or temporary injuries.”

For more information about services provided by Lafene Health Center visit k-state.edu/lafene. For more information about Disability Support Services visit k-state.edu/dss.