Luxury or Necessity?

11 Jan

This morning, this article about a local to me high school caught my eye.  The title alone is thought provoking “Injury prompts Shanksville to reconsider athletic trainer.”  Somehow this school thought it prudent to cut $2,500 in spending and not provide basic athletic training services for the athletes of the school.  According to the PIAA, this school has an enrollment of 105 students in 9-12 grade and competes in 5 boys’ and 7 girls’ sports.  Basketball is the only contact sport listed, but in my experience baseball, softball, cross country, tennis and volleyball are all sports that keep the AT busy.

Today’s economy and lack of funding for public education has school districts, private schools and even public and private colleges and universities closely examining budgets.  The economic climate has administrations at every level attempting to answer the question “Is the provision of athletic training services a luxury that we provide our athletes or is it a necessity to provide these services to our athletes?”

This is a great question and no athletic trainer should be intimidated by the question.  I absolutely agree that athletic training services are a necessity for competing athletes!  But how does an athletic trainer thoroughly answer the question?  How do we argue the case for our profession?  Hopefully the contents of this blog (not just this entry) will guide you towards many answers.

Here are some ideas to explore:

  1. Athletic trainers save lives.  This blog is full of cited news articles that relate the story of an athletic trainer saving the life of an athlete, referee, coach and even fans.  ATs are trained in the use of an AED and can readily save a life if the situation arises.
  2. Athletic trainers are trained in concussion management.  No other single profession has the training and experience that athletic trainers have in concussion management.
  3. Ideally athletic trainers are contracted to be around the athletes during practices and games including travel at times.  This constant contact between the athletes, coaches and athletic trainers develops a trust and a relationship.  This relationship is invaluable when it comes to provide services to the athlete and even in knowing that they are hurt.
  4. Athletic trainers are well educated in mechanism of injury.  When we sit along the sidelines observing a game, our view is much different than the coach, player or fans.  We are watching the mechanics of human motion and often easily spot mechanical differences.  ATs often know what injury has occurred just by merely observing the injury. Not only is this true for the traumatic orthopedic injury (ruptured ACL, dislocated shoulder), it is also true for those nagging overuse injuries.  Most tendinitis type injuries are a result of poor movement patterns placing stress on a tendon in a way it shouldn’t be stressed.  The best ATs can see these poor movement patterns, address the need and provide excellent care to the mildly injured athlete.
  5. The athletic trainer has a unique skill set that sets us apart from every healthcare profession and uniquely qualifies us to provide the best health care to athletes.  We have some of the emergency management skills of an EMT; we have some of the rehabilitation skills of a Physical Therapist; we have some of the physical examination skills of an orthopedic surgeon; we have some of the manual therapy skills of a good massage therapist or a Physical Therapist.  These skills and other unique skills separate us from other health care providers making us the only choice to provide our skills to athletic departments in high schools and colleges and professional sports.

Hopefully as you read this blog entry, you aren’t faced with the situation of having to argue for your job because administration views your services as a luxury.  But if you do, I hope that this entry and this blog will help you present your case that every athlete needs an athletic trainer!

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