Athletic Trainers: From Factory Lines To The Front Lines

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AT helping at the rodeo

Athletic Trainers (AT) play an essential role on the sports medicine team and are often the first healthcare providers on the scene when an injury occurs, no matter what that scene may be! With the National Athletic Trainer’s Association Symposia and Expo going on right now, we wanted to highlight the importance of ATs and share examples of some of the unexpected settings they provide care in. 

What Do Athletic Trainers Do?

You may think you know everything about ATs, however, there is a lot of misinformation out there about this in-demand profession. To set the record straight, let’s discuss what ATs actually do. 

ATs take on a multitude of tasks, such as providing emergency care, preventative services, therapeutic intervention, clinical diagnosis, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Along with this, they’re also prepared for any and every situation, such as knowing how to respond to serious injuries and diagnose concussions. 

ATs are licensed in almost all U.S. states and the District of Columbia, with the exception of  California. They’re also recognized as health professionals by the American Medical Association, Health Resources Services Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Oftentimes, ATs are mistaken for personal trainers. The biggest distinction between the two occupations is their education. To become a personal trainer, a certification is required, while ATs have graduated from an accredited program and more than half (70%) have a master’s degree! For ATs to become certified or licensed, they must first pass an exam from the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC). 

The clients ATs handle also differ from that of a personal trainer. For instance, personal trainers help their clients by evaluating their current fitness level and work with them to develop an appropriate exercise routine to reach their goal. ATs provide more comprehensive healthcare and work with other medical professionals to help their clients reduce the risk of injury or heal an existing injury. They help their clients by rehabilitating bones, muscles and other body parts, until the client is back to top shape. 

Where Do Athletic Trainers Work?

A common misconception is that ATs only work for professional or established sports teams, when that’s far from the truth! A great aspect of this occupation is that there’s a diverse range of fields where ATs may apply their training and expertise! The environments ATs work in vary, depending on their job setting, and could be indoors, outdoors, or both! Their hours vary as well, with ATs who work in sports settings generally working more hours because of practices, games and competitions. Here are a few examples you may not have known about.

Rodeo

A bull in the field, waiting to go to the rodeo, where an AT will be.

Rodeos are increasingly depending on ATs as it’s among the most dangerous and deadly sport. While riding bulls, athletes face up to 26 Gs (three times the amount felt by an F-1 pilot). Head and brain injuries are the most common in this sport, along with neck, chest, shoulder joint, and knee injuries. 

As awareness of the dangers of the sport continues to grow, it’s becoming clear that more health professionals, including ATs need to be at rodeo events. Dedicated teams of medical professionals, like the Justin Sports Medicine Team and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport Medicine Team help these athletes stretch, provide ice baths, apply tape, and suggest exercises to aid with pains and injuries that these athletes suffer from. They’re also involved in diagnosis when an impact results in a suspected concussion. The main objective for ATs in this field is to provide continuous care from one rodeo to the next, and educate athletes on how to care for themselves. 

Military

The military encompasses various positions such as nurses, medical technicians, training specialists, and even ATs! The demand for ATs in the armed forces has grown increasingly over the past several years, due to the fact that numerous military and government agencies are seeing the benefit of this profession. 

ATs who work in this field focus on the health and welfare of active duty soldiers and their dependents, and are required to have extensive knowledge and skills pertaining to the military. For example, ATs help with soldiers who are undergoing basic training by planning, organizing and implementing an Injury Prevention Program, in which they identify individuals predisposed to injury, provide alternate training and communicate with command and planning staff. These health professionals also present educational materials on supplements, drugs and alcohol, boot fit and injury prevention.

Industrial And Occupational Settings

Individuals working in industrial and occupational settings can put a lot of wear and tear on their bodies, which can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. The presence of an AT is extremely beneficial in these settings, because they work to prevent injuries and implement risk management strategies. 

These settings can present unique challenges for ATs, as oftentimes workers in this field aren’t preparing their fitness the way athletes do to match the demands of the job. The focus in this field is on injury prevention, to keep these individuals working at top levels. For example, workers in an assembly line may need assistance with corrective exercise strategies that address mobility, stability and functional movement. 

Companies in these industries are beginning to recognize ATs as a crucial component to injury prevention in the workplace, since workplace injuries ultimately affect the bottom line of a company by negatively impacting productivity, quality and cost. 

Performing Arts

A ballerina practicing stretches taught by her AT

ATs are an essential part of a performing artist’s health and have been working in this industry for over 25 years! Performing artists, such as those in the circus or ballet, push their bodies to the extreme. That means they’re at higher risk for injury and require the attention and preventative education ATs provide. 

ATs in this field offer specialized injury prevention, along with rehabilitative services to musicians, vocalists, dancers, and more. Studies have illustrated that the benefits of on-site medical care for performers include reduced severity and frequency of injuries, as well as lower production and operating costs. 

Prevention techniques are also used by ATs in the performing arts, such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercises and even custom dance shoe orthotics (especially when dancers have to wear heels). Along with working with other health professionals, ATs in the performing arts work closely with costume designers to modify the performer’s shoes or even their costume (especially if it’s restrictive for the performer).

It’s no secret that ATs play an important role in the health and performance of athletes, performers, and even in the workplace! To support clients in all of these various fields, ATs can turn to an Athlete Electronic Health Record (EHR), like Presagia Sports, to keep track of any athlete’s injuries, treatments, health status and more. Easy-to-use and secure solutions like these enable sports medicine professionals to better manage their athletes’ health, so they can be the best in any field,  whether in a theater or stable-side!