Why Athletes Need Athletic Trainers – Continuity

10 Jan

Why do athletes or athletic departments or teams need the services of an athletic trainer?  This will be a series of articles attempting to examine the unique and important roles that athletic trainers play in the lives of the people that they care for.

Part 3 – Continuity of Care, Continuity of Communication

Having worked in the high school setting for 13 school years as a certified athletic trainer plus another 4 school years for my internship, I have worked with a lot of 2, 3 and even 4 sport athletes.  Yes, some athletes play 4 sports participating in soccer and as the football kicker simultaneously or in baseball and track.  Even those these athletes are great all around athletes with phenomenal fundamental movement skills and conditioning levels, they occasionally get hurt (though at a much less rate than 1 sport athletes in my observation).  I can’t imagine how continuity of care and communication works at a school without an athletic trainer.

One of the most common tasks that an ATC performs is communicating with the coach, parent and athlete on injury status.  We constantly communicate about limitations, return to play timetable, rehabilitation process, etc.  But in a situation without an ATC, who communicates?  Who communicates with the parents, with the doctor, with ALL the coaches who coach the injured athlete?  If the athlete injures the dominate shoulder in the fall, who communicates that to the spring baseball/softball/track throwers coach?  Once the season is over, who communicates to the next coach about the injuries that may affect the next season?  At the high school with the services of the athletic trainer, there is only one place that a coach, parent or administrator needs to go to get injury information – the AT.  The athletic trainer is available to all athletes during the entire school year.   The injury that was suffered in the fall may not affect play in the fall due to the nature of the sport, but it may affect  movement needed for the winter or spring seasons.  The athletic trainer will know this and will communicate this to all the people who need to know this.

Continuity of care is another area where ATs excel.  When an athlete is hurt, we will rehab that injury until we are satisfied that we can do no more for the athlete, no matter the participation level.  If the rehab were to be left up to the coach, they may only rehab the injury until they are back to play.  With the coach, a 2nd or 3rd string player may get very little rehab if any.  The continuity of care may extend from one season into the next season for the athletic trainer.  The sprained ankle suffered late in the winter season may need rehab through the first 6 weeks of the spring sports season.  The rehab that the AT provides will be the same for the entire process, but in a situation without access to an AT, the winter coach will hand over the injured athlete to the spring coach for rehab and their may be a completely different way of doing things.  This is provided that the coaches communicate with each other about the injury.  The spring coach may not want to deal with the injury.  The spring coach may not even know how to deal with that injury.  With the AT at the school, the administration is providing continual service to all athletes and remove that stress and liability from the coaches.

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