Wellness Wednesday – How Certified Athletic Trainers keep teen athletes safe

HEBER CITY, Utah -  As high school athletics have become faster and more competitive, the need for a certified athletic trainer (ATC) on staff has become a necessity and not just a luxury. Intermountain Healthcare partners with 41 high schools in Utah to offer full-time certified athletic trainers for all sports.

“Certified athletic trainers are about a lot more than just taping ankles and ice bags,” said Lacee Brown, certified athletic trainer at Wasatch High School. “We use our medical expertise to give best care to students, but also work with coaches to prevent injuries in the first place.”

According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the presence of athletic trainers in the secondary schools lowers overall injury rates, improves diagnosis and return‐to‐play decisions, and reduces the risk for recurrent injuries.

There are several key things an athletic trainer provides to a school which focus on the well-being of student athletes. Having access to a medical professional on the sideline, and during school hours is a way to increase safety.

Injury prevention is a major part of an athletic trainer’s work, and they often guide coaches on habits and drills that can achieve those goals. Advising coaches on proper warm up and cool down can go a long way in helping athletes stay healthy.

A great example of this is the summer time heat when many athletes are preparing for the season. An athletic trainer can track outside temperatures to determine if activity times need to be adjusted, or the number of water breaks increased.

An ATC is vital to quickly recognizing and treating sport related injuries and illness.  Whether it’s in a practice or a game, diagnosing an injury quickly has shown to produce best possible outcomes for injured athletes.

New laws in Utah also require a medical professional to evaluate any athlete suspected of having a concussion and implement a concussion protocol before they can return to play. Another reason athletic trainer on the sidelines is a crucial part of player safety.

Educating coaches, athletes, and parents is another part of an athletic trainers’ duties. Having the medical knowledge to identify an issue and to direct athletes to proper resources. An ATC also educates athletes on proper nutrition and hydration which can directly impact their performance.

Athletic trainers can also help with an athlete’s rehabilitation during school hours in some cases. Eliminating the need for the athlete to leave school, or for parents to take time off work to pick them up.

Click here for more information on Intermountain Healthcare’s sports medicine programs.

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