Athletic Trainer Skill Set – Part 3, Rehabilitation

21 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 3 – Rehabilitation

Mirriam-Webster defines rehabilitation as “ a medical specialty concerned with treating disabling disorders and injuries by physical means (as by the use of electrotherapy, therapeutic exercise, or pharmaceutical pain control).  Athletic trainers are very well versed and stay up to date in the latest rehabilitation techniques.  These techniques often include exercise, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, massage, joint manipulation, manual therapy techniques, hydrotherapy, cryotherapy (cold),  range of motion and taping techniques.  Often, athletic trainers can perform very effective injury rehabilitation with very little equipment making the AT one of the most cost effective professionals within the realm of therapy.  90% of the rehabilitation that I do involves a one or more of the following hot pack, ice bag, medicine ball, a dumbbell, some therapy rubber bands and/or my hands.  Since many experienced ATs can perform most rehabilitation with very little equipment, rehabilitation of injuries is one of the most cost effective services we provide. 

As an example of the rehabilitation services provided in my athletic training room during the fall season, we provided just under $39,000 worth of rehabilitation.  This value was calculated by tabulating the number of ultrasound sessions, e-stim, massage, manual therapy treatments and therapuetic exercise sessions given to the athletes and multiplied by the appropriate CPT code value for 2010 (more on that in another blog).  We had right at 500 athletes in season in 7-12th grades and employ 2 ATCs to provide care for these athletes.

For administrators who are thinking of hiring the services of an AT for their school, most of the rehabilitation ATs perform in the training room is provided to athletes who are still able to participate to some degree in their sport.   Many injuries that we see are minor to mild in nature with little to no loss of practice days.  ATs are providing rehabilitation/therapy services to athletes who aren’t going to go to the local physical therapy clinic to get the therapy done.  Providing AT services at the high school for athletes is giving them access to rehabilitation they would never utilize for those minor to mild injuries.  So, by providing this level of care by hiring an athletic trainer, administration is ensuring that these otherwise untreated injuries are properly cared for and never turn into a debilitating injury.  The athletic trainer’s rehabilitation skill will prove very valuable to the school district in very little time.

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