A guest blog by Gareth Davies.
Since 2004, I have been involved as a pitch-side sports therapist in rugby, ranging from grassroots to the professional level. This season, I moved into football, working with Pen-y-Bont F.C. who are in the Welsh Premier League.
While I was setting up all the stations during my first game with the football team (a force of habit having worked in rugby), I was told “you will never need that", the reference being to the suturing box, but I set it up ready just in case.
After a few games of being called onto the field for fairly minor injuries, such as stubbed toes, sprains and strains, bruising and swelling, the last three games had been somewhat eventful. I had to deal with three players who all suffered cuts to the head and face which have all required suturing.
Suturing is a very specific skill that was taught to me by Lubas Medical on their Wound Management and Suturing course. This is one hundred percent a fantastic skill to have and I highly recommend to anyone who is involved with a contact sport to have these specific skills.
Having these skills enables managers to lose a player for a short space of time, as opposed to the remainder of the fixture. This is unless the player needs to be removed from the game and sent to the hospital for medical attention!
Two of the players I sutured had fairly deep cuts on the scalp to the top of the head, both of which were bleeding quite a lot. It would have been impossible to put a dressing on this area and therefore the player would have had to been removed from the game and sent to A&E for treatment.
This would have caused more issues as in one of the games we were away in North Wales and either the coach would have had to wait for us or we would have had to find alternative transport home!
The other player had a nasty cut just below the eye and this player did get sent to A&E, as I remembered the instructor on the suturing course saying that this is a very delicate area of the face that has lots of blood vessels and nerves, so you need to be highly trained to suture in this area.
There are also cosmetic issues to think about. For this reason, I cleaned the wound and put a dressing over it. The player was taken to A&E who was then seen by a Maxillofacial surgeon who sutured the wound.
All of these experiences show that as pitch-side sports therapists, we need to be prepared for any situation. By learning key Wound Management and Suturing skills, I am now able to assess, manage and select the appropriate wound closure technique for a variety of traumatic wounds.