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What is a Certified Athletic
Trainer?


by Jennifer Hogg, ATC


Athletic trainers have a unique role
in the field of athletics. Athletic trainers, or ATC’s are allied
health professionals with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree – most
attain a master’s degree level. Their education provides an
extensive background in biological health sciences. Many have dual
degrees as a physical therapist or educators. Certified ATC’s
complete a nationally-administered examination and a great number of
on-the-job hours under the direct supervision of a certified athletic
trainer. All athletic trainers are formally educated in the
prevention, recognition, assessment, management, treatment and
rehabilitation of athletic injuries, as well as in the administration,
education and counseling of the injured athlete. ATC’s must also
take continuing education courses to remain certified.


The athletic trainer works in a number
of areas and oversees various athletes. Trainers are prepared to work
with athletes individually or as a team or group. In addition to
working with teams and their members as they develop, the trainer may
also do "personal training" – working one -on-one with an
athlete as he/she prepares for competition.


The ATC may be found working with
athletes in a number of settings, including high schools, colleges,
professional teams and sports medicine clinics. The trainer works
closely with school nurses, team physicians, team dentists and
physical therapists as they promote safe competition and work with
those players who do become injured.


In addition to formal education, the
ATC must be caring, mature, compassionate and responsible leader. The
trainer spends considerable time with athletes and can give great
insight and personal attention to an athlete dealing with an athletic
injury.


Locally, area high schools all work
with athletic trainers. Much of the ATC’s work each day is the
ongoing care of the school’s athletes with minor bumps and
bruises, sprains and strains. However, the ATC is trained to be the
first response when catastrophic injuries occur. It was an athletic
trainer who was an athletic trainer who was the first on scene when a
local high school pole vaulter sustained a lift-threatening head
injury. The ATC’s quick and precise response to stabilize the
young man for further care facilitated a very remarkable recovery.


Trainers also coordinate
rehabilitative care that an injured athlete receives outside of the
high school environment. Their contacts with local physicians and
physical therapists is critical is a resource for the student athlete,
parents and coaches on topics ranging from drug- enhanced performance,
weight lifting and exercise.


If you are interested in learning more
about the role of today’s athletic trainers or wish to receive
more information on ATC services available for your school or league,
call Northeast Rehabilitation Health Network’s Sports Medicine
Division at (800) 825-7292.