AUDL Establishes Athletic Care Network For All 22 Teams

February 17, 2021

The American Ultimate Disc League is proud to announce the formation of the AUDL Athletic Care Network (ACN), the culmination of more than a year of exploratory research, guidance, and policy development. The urgent health risks posed by COVID-19 to athletes prompted AUDL leadership to accelerate its focus on forming a comprehensive Health and Safety strategy. In conjunction with the league's ongoing Health and Safety Initiative (HSI), a newly established network of physicians will provide each of the league's 22 teams with a Head Team Physician to manage the care of AUDL athletes and oversee healthcare policy for each individual franchise for 2021, including team-specific protocols for COVID-19.  

What began as a pre-pandemic project to establish a robust healthcare system within the AUDL has evolved into a comprehensive two-pronged campaign: provide an avenue for re-opening play in 2021 by securing expert medical partners to address a safe return to ultimate activity for athletes and league personnel in the short term; for the long term, create a permanent AUDL Medical Advisory Committee (AMAC) comprised of independent medical experts to research, define, and implement medical policy to ensure AUDL athletes are fit for competition, and to prevent and facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of injuries sustained during AUDL activities.

The ACN originated from the work in early 2020 to assemble the AUDL COVID Task Force (ACTF). A multidisciplinary committee of eight experts in medicine, epidemiology, and public health, the ACTF together created the AUDL COVID Policies and Procedures (CPP)  issued in the spring of 2020. The CPP was a precursor to establishing the more comprehensive AUDL Health and Safety Guidelines, which includes specific COVID-related protocols pertinent to the short-term, as well as general health and safety best practices to ensure the well-being of AUDL athletes and personnel in the long-term. 

The AUDL Head Team Physician is the gatekeeper of athlete health, and ensures AUDL athletes receive medical care adherent to best practices and peer standards. Their responsibilities include: 

  • Building a network of medical professionals to address the spectrum of wellness needs of AUDL athletes

  • Oversight of team’s ACN, including medical specialists, athletic trainers, and other allied healthcare professionals

  • Facilitating pre-participation evaluation (PPE) of AUDL athletes to identify conditions that may affect overall health and safety

  • Oversight of team injury data collection and quality for AUDL Injury Research Program

  • Establishing a chain of command for injury and illness management

  • Streamlining access to care for evaluation and treatment of injuries and emergencies

  • Coordinating assessment and management of gameday injuries and medical problems for home and away teams

  • Making final decisions on clearance for return to training and return to play after injury and illness