Most people would recognize an athletic trainer if they saw them run out onto a sports field, however many people would most likely not know a ton about the profession and how important one can be for an athlete.
What is an Athletic Trainer
An athletic trainer (ATC) is a health care professional that works in various settings and assists individuals to prevent, treat and rehabilitate injuries. Athletic trainers collaborate with physicians to limit athletes’ time on the “sidelines” and optimize performance after injury. The field of athletic training includes but is not limited to prevention, diagnosis, intervention of emergency medicine, acute and chronic medical conditions as well as rehabilitation. Athletic trainers have either a 4-year bachelors or 2 years masters’ degree from an accredited program and many programs have added a doctorate tract. Athletic trainers are certified by the National Athletic Training Association (NATA) and hold a state license in their state of practice. Common athletic training settings include high schools, physical therapy clinics, doctors’ offices, hospitals, industrial settings, orthopedic product development, military, performing arts, college and professional sports. ATC’s keep their knowledge current by participating in continuing education courses throughout the year.
Many times Athletic Trainers are confused with personal trainers. Although many athletic trainers are also personal trainers, they hold different roles in their respective fields. A personal trainer is someone who determines monitors and adjusts an exercise program for an individual participating in a fitness setting.
Need for Athletic Trainers
Although many athletic directors feel that it is important for their schools to have athletic trainers it is sometime difficult to fit into the budget or convince school administrators of the schools/athletes needs. When a cost to safety comparison is done in the long run it will be seen that having an athletic trainer present at practices and sporting events will provide a more cost effective solution for a school as opposed to the alternatives. An athletic trainer needs to work with the athletic director because they are a team and the first line of risk management for the student athletes. Working together, the two can determine areas of risk within emergency policies at the school and find areas of improvement for an overall goal of student athlete safety and championship level competition.
What ATC’s provide to Athletes
Athletic Trainers are in their setting to attend to student athletes’ at the time of injury. They educate the students on their injury and what proper immediate care of their injury includes. If necessary, an Athletic Trainer can apply tape or a protective brace for an injury and advise athletes on assistive devices such as crutches.
Athletic trainers also attend sporting events and are the first to arrive at the scene of an injury. They are able to assess and triage the injury to the proper medical professional and will later collaborate in the athlete's care with the other health care practitioner. Athletic trainers can be the quick link to other medical professionals for their athletes because they are working under the supervision of physicians.
For many athletic trainers during the school year being responsible for the care of athletes is their full time job. They schedule their office hours and practice coverage hours around what is going on at the school. Also during the school years many times you will find an athletic trainer teaching students in the classroom or out of their athletic training room or even on the field.
How parents, athletes and coaches can help
Everyone involved in athletics can be an advocate for bringing and keeping an athletic trainer at their school. Education on who and what an ATC can do for a school is important for all parties involved in athletics. It is important for everyone to know that athletic trainers are part of the team and are trying to get everyone back into the game.
Ortho Rhode Islands Athletic Trainers
Our team at Ortho Rhode Island employs athletic trainers. Michael and Kelly work in the physical therapy clinics as aides during the day assisting the physical therapists. After school and on weekends they are attending sporting events providing athletic training coverage. Mike and Kelly cover, high school and college athletics as well as helping the Rhode Island Interscholastic League with ATC coverage for its championship events
This coming month of March we celebrate Athletic Training Month! Help Ortho RI and its athletic trainers by advocating for an ATC in your local high school!
Because as the NATA’s slogan says “AT’s are essential to health care”