March is Athletic Training Month!
This month, we want to recognize athletic trainers’ positive impact on work, life, and sports for athletes of all ages. National Athletic Training Month is sponsored by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), the professional members association for certified athletic trainers, and others who support the athletic training profession. NATA represents more than 45,000 members worldwide. We recognize all athletic trainers for their hard work and dedication to making all athletes look and feel better on and off the field.
Who Is an Athletic Trainer?
Athletic trainers (ATCs) hold at least a four-year degree from a BOC (Board of Certification) accredited institution. They are highly certified, multi-skilled healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. They are licensed health experts who work with athletes both on and off the field. Generally, they are the first responders when injuries occur during sporting events.
Working to prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries and sports-related illnesses, athletic trainers offer a continuum of care unparalleled in health care. Athletic trainers work closely with coaches and parents and will refer athletes to other healthcare professionals such as physicians, physical therapists, and surgeons when needed. Athletic trainers should not be confused with personal trainers or “trainers” who focus solely on fitness and conditioning.
Athletic trainers work with individual athletes in various settings to help with the prevention and treatment of injuries. High schools, middle schools, universities, professional sports teams, hospitals, clinics, performing arts, clubs’ teams, and more are among a few of the settings. It’s a continuum of care. They know their patients well because they are at school with these specific athletes.
Athletic Trainers Provide Game and Practice Coverage:
- Early injury detection and intervention
- Quick referral process to a local specialist if required
- Concussion safety injury screenings
- Evaluation of injury
- Recommendation on immediate care
- Quicker return to play
In the Training Room Athletic Trainers
- Prepare athletes for competition by taking preventative measures such as equipment fitting, taping, and bracing.
- Assess athletes with acute and chronic injuries to determine their participation status.
- Perform sport-specific rehabilitation on injured athletes.
- Provide opportunities for strengthening and conditioning.
- Work with sports staff on proper warm-up, game day preparation, and on/off-season conditioning
- Educate athletes, coaches, and parents on sports medicine strategies, nutrition, and sports psychology.
During the Game Athletic Trainers
- Support athletes during sporting events
- Manage any type of musculoskeletal issues including:
- Shoulder, hip, knee, elbow, hand, and ankle injuries
- Facial injuries
- Neck and back injuries, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries like concussions
- Triage and wound care
- Heat-related illnesses
- Fractures and dislocations
- Catastrophic injuries
Sports injuries can be very serious. Brain and spinal cord injuries and conditions such as heat illness can be life-threatening if not recognized and properly handled. Athletic trainers are there to treat acute injuries on the spot.
Handling an injury at school, rather than sending the patient to the emergency department, saves money and time loss. Athletic trainers decrease the liability on coaches, ensure a quicker and safer return to play, and reduce the risk of injuries for athletes of all ages. Just as professional athletes do, recreational athletes should also have access to athletic trainers.
To read ATC sports stats on injuries reported by student-athletes click here.