The Value of an Athletic Trainer in Secondary School
Athletic trainers are oftentimes in the background working long and hard hours to help keep athletes safe, not just during games, but daily in practices. It might seem as though we are there to provide medical coverage, however what we do extends beyond simply responding to an injury. Having a familiar face respond during an injury, emergent or not, can be comforting to the athlete and the parents; however, as skilled healthcare providers in prevention, diagnosis, immediate care, and rehabilitation, our daily presence in the high school makes our profession different. The daily interactions with student-athletes, even when they are healthy, make for a unique setting to provide care. So how can you define the value of an
athletic trainer in the secondary school?
Without an athletic trainer in the high school, an athlete might see a doctor for a minor injury and then follow up in 1-2 weeks or some cases not follow up at all. When injuries occur, we see our patients every day. Being able to reevaluate an injury daily allows for best care decisions to be made and in some cases quicker recovery. In the event of a long-term injury, the athletic trainer can be an asset to the athlete’s care by communicating with the physician how the individual is progressing.
If rehabilitation is necessary following an injury, we are available to provide this service without your athlete leaving school or missing practice. There may be a time during the school day, typically a study hall or in some cases PE class if the injury keeps them from participating, when the student can come to the Athletic Training Room for treatment or rehabilitation. If this is not an option, then the student would have to leave school, drive to an appointment, and then return to school after. Not only is having the availability of an athletic trainer convenient, it also helps to save many educational hours that are potentially lost. Even if the student cannot see the athletic trainer during the school day, being able to complete rehab during practice time has huge advantages. Athletes continue to be a part of the team by watching practice and staying connected to teammates. In addition, both the team and coaches see how hard the athlete is working to return to the field or court.
The above scenarios emphasize how important it can be to deliver personalized care. Athletic training is a unique profession that helps ensure a continuum of care from the time of injury to making a full return back to sport. Trying to define the value of the service provided by athletic trainers might sound like the beginning of an old credit card commercial. You know the one where they tell the price of certain material things, but sum up the experience as priceless. Maybe that could apply to explaining what it is like to have an experienced healthcare professional readily available to help your athlete not only stay in the game, but safely return to the game—priceless. It’s the not just coverage, it’s care that makes the difference.
Whitney Vessar is a sports medicine and athletic trainer provider at CHI Health. To learn more about Whitney, please visit her provider profile.