First off, I want to thank all my followers for your understanding that
I needed a little time off in February. What better place than a tiny
(itty bitty) fishing village south of Cancun where the generator only
runs for a few hours a day, the water is always lukewarm, nachos are considered
a breakfast food and the fish are plentiful, but you have to throw them
back. I might be a little crispy around the edges from standing on the
bow of a boat, looking for bonefish for six days, but now I am clear of
mind and ready for the rest of the year.
So like I said in the title, have you hugged your athletic trainer today?
March is National Athletic Training month, so I thought this would be
the perfect time to spotlight the athletic trainers living in the community.
When you are in the stands at one of our local high school or CCGA sporting
events, can you spot the trainer? If you look closely, you can usually
identify them as the person wearing a fanny pack slung over their shoulder,
typically holding a roll of tape, and attentively following the game to
make sure no one has gone to ground during a play. If an athlete is injured,
they are the first one to sprint off the sideline like a medic in a WWII
film, running out to a soldier. After an assessment on the field, that
player, if able, is taken to an exam table for treatment. Being on the
sidelines for hundreds of games with the trainers, I am always amazed
how they can treat a player, talk to the mama who is now leaning over
the bleachers, and continually scan the field of play for injured players.
When the game is over, the team has won or lost, the injured player has
been treated, you may think it’s time for the athletic trainer to
go home, but that’s not likely. Think of the trainer as the jack-of-all-trades.
After the game, they have to get off the bus or meet the team and start
setting up treatment. The players who are beat up and sore from hard competition
start filing in the training room for treatment before they go home. Injuries
are assessed, ice packs are handed out and care coordinated for the rest
of the week. Can the trainer go home now? No. Around this time, coaches
start sticking their head in the training room, asking about the status
of their athletes. Finally, our industrious athletic trainer gets a chance
to leave, but only after he or she has cleaned up the training room and
organized supplies. That is a game day in the life of an athletic trainer.
The Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) is highly qualified in the care of
athletes. Their fund of knowledge in regards to anatomy, physiology, biomechanics
and rehabilitation equals or surpasses many other health care providers.
Here are a few salient points that need to be highlighted about ATC’s
- Found in a variety of settings, including high schools, colleges, professional
sports, youth sports, physical therapy clinics, physician offices, military,
law enforcement, and large business campuses.
- Health care providers.
- Trained in CPR and AED use.
- Required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and to have passed
a national certification exam.
- Intelligent. Over 70 percent of Certified Athletic Trainers possess a Masters
Degree or higher.
- Part of the sports medicine team, which is made up of a variety of health
- Leaders in concussion recognition and management.
Less than half of all high schools in the U.S. provide their student athletes access to a certified athletic trainer.
- Responsible for the prevention, evaluation, and rehabilitation of orthopedic injuries.
- Most importantly, athletic trainers save lives
Locally, Southeast Georgia Health System provides Sports Medicine services,
including an ATC at two Glynn County High Schools (Glynn Academy and Brunswick
High), Frederica Academy and McIntosh Academy. There is also an ATC who
acts as a community liaison, helping to provide coverage for other local
events, including the Bridge Run, Super Dolphin Day and many other community
activities. Each ATC provides training to local coaches on CPR and concussion
management. They also provide invaluable services by teaching student
athletes all topics of healthy habits, including concussion management,
injury treatment, rehabilitation, hydration, nutrition and heat illness.
They work directly with coaches on injury management programs such as
ACL injury prevention and the new FIFA 11+ program for injury prevention
in soccer. They help to coordinate care of the injured athlete and are
responsible for treatment programs and return to play protocols with oversight
by myself in my role as the Sports Medicine Director for the Health System.
Finally, they assist with the coordination of the county wide annual sports
physicals and on the field management of spinal injuries with EMS services.
Wow! That’s a lot to do.
Last year, my oldest son received his Eagle Scout. One of the cornerstone
mottos of Scouts is “Be Prepared.” From my standpoint, all
ATC’s exemplify this concept daily. They have to be prepared for
everything. They prepare for injury, so it doesn’t become catastrophic.
They prepare for emergencies by carrying around equipment they hope they
will never use. They prepare for bad weather. They prepare, so the student
athletes can perform to their fullest potential. They prepare, so all
of your children and grandchildren, cousins, nephews and nieces can get
out and play, knowing that if they go down, the first thing they are going
to see is the athletic trainer—prepared, ready to take care of them.
I want to personally thank all of the ATCs that I have worked with, past
and present, for their diligence and dedication to the athletes of Glynn
County. If you see one, you should thank them too. (Hint: the fanny pack
is a dead give-away that they are an athletic trainer!)