Let me start by clearing up a common misperception. An athletic trainer is not a “personal” trainer or “strength and conditioning” trainer. While many athletic trainers hold additional strength and conditioning credentials, they are healthcare professionals focused on evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of injuries and illnesses.
Some athletic trainers are employed directly by schools, while others work for hospitals or sports medicine programs that contract with schools and teams to provide athletic training services. Unfortunately not every school has them. In 2009 only 42% of U.S. high schools had access to athletic trainers.
It’s time that all high schools have access to athletic trainers. If you are a parent of a high school athlete, you should inquire about athletic trainers for their sports and push the school to hire one if there’s no such coverage. If you play on a competitive team outside of the school systems, you should try to find athletic trainer coverage. Quite frankly, athletic trainers play critical roles in sports programs.
In addition to serving as first responders for injured athletes, they can develop emergency action plans, monitor field, environment, and weather conditions, develop and coordinate injury prevention programs, prepare athletes for practice and games, communicate with physicians about injuries, treat and rehabilitate injured players, and help determine return to play for injured athletes.
Studies have shown higher injury rates and significantly higher reinjury rate among athletes at schools without athletic trainers compared to those at schools with them. Additionally, the presence of an athletic trainer has been shown to increases the chances of identification of concussed athletes.
If you are an athlete on a team sport, or if you are the parent or coach of an athlete who plays team sports, work with the schools and teams to obtain coverage from a certified athletic trainer.