Story by Tara Ekren
Photography provided by Essentia Health
As the calendar turns to August, many families start thinking back-to-school and how much busier their nights and weekends will get once extracurricular activities kick off. Middle school and high school athletics are a way of life for many families in our area. With this comes the risk of injury from playing sports. Student athletes are lucky to have a teammate who not only looks out for them but helps treat injuries that do happen. Even though they don't play the game, athletic trainers are an integral part of the team.
1. What is an athletic trainer?
The National Athletic Trainer Association says athletic training encompasses the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of emergent, acute, or chronic injuries and medical conditions.
In short, athletic trainers take care of our student-athletes to help prevent injuries, treat problems when they happen, and help athletes get back in the game after an injury. “I want parents to know that there is nothing more important than the safety of your child,” Martin says.
2. What kind of education does an athletic trainer have?
Athletic trainers must graduate from an accredited college or university program. These programs include a variety of rotations that student athletic trainers participate in such as orthopedic, podiatry, physical therapy, surgical and general medical clinicals. Other rotations include working with professional, collegiate, high school and youth athletics. After graduating from the accredited program, they must pass the Board of Certification exam. Once certified, an athletic trainer must be licensed in the state they want to practice.
3. What does an athletic trainer do?
“Trainers communicate and work with providers to ensure proper care, order supplies, communicate with coaches and parents, educate athletes and parents on at-home care, and incorporate rehab and therapeutic treatments for current injuries,” Martin says. In addition, they ensure the safety of student-athletes during sporting events.
4. When do athletic trainers work?
Athletic trainers typically get to school before classes are out. Martin says, “We’ll help the student athletes get ready for practice through stretching. We’ll also work with any students who are injured to evaluate and assess what they can do during practice or if they can play that night.”
Plus, athletic trainers are on the sidelines of games for high-contact sports such as football, hockey, wrestling and soccer. Trainers are able to treat injuries right away and can coordinate follow-up care if it’s needed.
5. Do athletic trainers continue their education?
Essentia Health athletic trainers continue their education and continually search out new research methods, looking for ways to improve how they prevent and treat injuries in athletes. Their expertise ranges from developments in kinesiology and movement methods used in practice and play to reduce the risk of injury, to using advanced technology such as using hyperbaric chambers for students with concussions. “That’s really exciting to me – to be proactive in treating students more effectively, especially with concussive symptoms and the continuing needs of understanding how to better treat our athletes to get them back to the field, classroom and life,” Martin says.
For parents, knowing an athletic trainer is watching out for your student-athlete, should be a comfort. Essentia Health is the exclusive athletic training provider for a variety of schools in North Dakota and Minnesota. Along with athletic training, Essentia Health strives to provide care like nowhere else by offering immunizations, sports physicals, educational opportunities and a variety of other programming to schools.
Visit EssentiaHealth.org to learn more
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