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What Is An Athletic Trainer

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What exactly is an Athletic trainer?  The name can be a little deceiving.  When the profession of Athletic training was founded in the early 20th century, the intention was to provide medical services to athletes.  However in actuality, athletic trainers provide medical services to all types of people in various settings.  Although the word training is in our title, they have different certifications, education, and responsibilities compared to a personal or fitness trainer.

Athletic Trainers are health care professionals who work under the direction of a physician and who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries (acute or chronic), sports related illnesses and act as first responders to an emergency.   Athletic trainers work in secondary schools, colleges, professional sports, clinics, hospitals, corporations, the military, and the performing arts.

At Saint Alphonus Sports Medicine, we currently have arrangements with several high schools.  Responsibilities may vary from school to school depending on their needs but all schools are provided medical coverage for their home football games and the opportunity to attend what we call “bumps and bruises clinics”.  At these clinics, injured student-athletes from each school have an opportunity to be assessed by an athletic trainer.  We can then decide what further actions need to be taken such as:
• Instructing a home exercise routine to help strengthen or stretch a certain body part
• Make suggestions on how to modify their activity to help them safely return to practice and competition
•  Setting up a doctor’s appointment if we feel the injury needs further evaluation

When providing medical coverage for high schools or events, our duties include prepping the student-athletes for practice and competition. Our Sports Medicine Team evaluates and treats the athlete if they happen to sustain an injury and also make the decision if they can safely return to activity. There are times when a student-athlete wants to go back into a game after sustaining a head injury and doesn’t understand why they are being kept out.  Coaches and parents may think it’s ok and safe to put them back in, especially if it’s an important game.    Having an athletic trainer on the sidelines takes the pressure off of the coaches and allows the trainer to make those tough decisions.  It is also very important for the athletic trainer to educate and communicate with each student-athlete, coach and parent when an injury occurs. The main responsibility of an athletic trainer is ensuring the well being of each student-athlete.

Outside of patient care most athletic trainers also enjoy and are encouraged to participate in a variety of community activities.  For example: Representing at a booth at the local high school health fair, writing blogs, presenting at different workshops, educating the public on different topics like concussions, strength and conditioning, or the rehabilitation of different injuries. All of these mentioned are an important part of the job.

For more information on athletic training, please visit the STARS website at www.starspt.org.