The Athletic Trainer Skill Set – Part 2, Assessment

15 Jan

The typical athletic trainer has a diverse skill set that they must constantly develop and hone.  This series of blog entries will seek to focus on the skill set that most athletic trainers possess in order to effectively do their job in the traditional setting.  Collectively, this skill set makes the AT a very valuable resource to the athletes, coaches and administration that they serve.

Part 2 – Assessment

A second domain within an athletic trainer’s skill set according to the NATABOC is injury/illness assessment.  Injury assessment is simply the ability to conclude what an injury is, the extent of the injury and determine a course of action.  Athletic trainers in the high school setting perform hundreds of assessments each year in the athletic training room.  In my opinion, this assessment skill set that the AT possesses is one of the most valuable and tangible benefits that the AT offers to the athlete.  This is because because requires a base scientific knowledge of the human body, critical thinking skills and clinical experience.  Assessment ability is constantly honed and the knowledge base is constantly growing for the clinician.  Simply put, as the AT get more years of experience under their belt, they get better at assessing injuries and illnesses.

The typical high school athletic training room is a walk in health clinic and the established high school AT will have not just athletes walk in for an assessment but also marching band members, the cast of the school play (i.e. dancers), night matainence, coaches and even teachers.  I often even have former athletes call me up to see when I will be in the training room so that I can look at them.  During the fall athletic season (mid-August to mid-November), my assistant and I performed 230 formal injury evaluations/re-evaluations in the training room on the 501 in-season athletes.  This doesn’t include the many informal consults that we performed for teachers, coaches and off-season athletes.  These evaluations are valued at over $16,000 using reimbursement codes for athletic training (more on that in a later post).  If I add in the post-concussion Impact test result evaluations with the appropriate reimbursement code, the value is right at $20,000 of services provided just within the domain of assessment.

In this research study,  investigators compared data entry rates between coaches and ATCs at the same high schools.  The difference was significant even though the ATs and the coaches were supposed to be entering the same information.  Read the study abstract for yourself and see what you think.  I think it may give some insight into injury recognition and perceptions at high schools without athletic training services.  The coaches entered much less injury information possibly because they were unaware of the injury or the injury severity.  If my assumption is true, this study could be a great source of justification for ATs in the high school since their awareness to injury is much more sensitive and obviously their assessment ability offers so much to the high school student body and staff.

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