Who are Athletic Trainers and what can they do to help the Physically Active in Pennsylvania?

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Athletic Trainers are versatile health care providers who work with physically active individuals in a variety of settings. Under the direction of a physician, athletic trainers provide care that includes prevention, evaluation and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries. In addition to the traditional scholastic and collegiate athletes, many industries use athletic trainers to help reduce health care costs for their employees.

Industrial Athlete

"Athletic Trainers no longer work in only the traditional high school, college and professional settings. We can work anywhere there are physically active individuals" Yvette Ingram PhD, LAT, ATC President of the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers' Society

With Act 123 and 124 taking effect on February 20, 2012, Athletic Trainers are now licensed health care providers within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This has prompted many individuals to ask the question “Who are Athletic Trainers and what can they do?” Athletic trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize activity and participation of patients and clients. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and intervention of emergency, acute, and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations, and disabilities.

Typical patients that ATs work with include:

  •     Recreational, amateur, and professional athletes
  •     Individuals who have suffered musculoskeletal injuries
  •     Those seeking strength, conditioning, fitness, and performance enhancement
  •     Others delegated by the physician

Some places athletic training services are provided include:

  •     Athletic training facilities
  •     Schools (K-12, colleges, universities)
  •     Amateur, professional and Olympic sports venues
  •     Clinics
  •     Hospitals
  •     Physician offices
  •     Community facilities
  •     Workplaces (commercial and government)

Working under a physician’s direction, ATs have the unique ability as a health care professional to have an active role in the full lifecycle of an injury. Following the occurrence of an injury the AT is usually the first individual to respond and provide care. Upon initial evaluation by the AT it is decided if the injured individual needs to be referred for further care or if the injury can be managed through appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. By having the ability to see a patient from the initial on-set of injury to return to activity ATs have been shown to reduce time lost due to injury in not only the recreational arena but the labor market too.

The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) shows many labor intensive businesses have recognized the value of care provided by athletic trainers and the injury prevention they offer. [http://www.nata.org/athletic-training/job-settings/industrial-occupational-setting/results Their study has shown that hiring an AT to help establish fitness goals and evaluate injuries as well as supervise return to activity process, can reduce the incidence of re-injury and cut time loss by more than 60%. Another added benefit of hiring an AT in labor intensive business is that it can help reduce the incidence of malingering and false workmanship compensation claims. This is done by establishing a baseline and setting a procedure for delineating work-related injuries from injuries that occurred on personal time. The athletic trainer can still provide evaluation and treatment for non-work related injuries and ultimately reduce time lost on the work force.

Athletic trainers are an important asset to have access for both schools and companies. If your school or company does not have one ask them to visit the NATA website to see if hiring an athletic trainer can bring down costs and improve efficiency by helping your team fully recover from injuries.

Watch the video - "Athletic Trainers are unsung hero's." This video can be found at http://www.nata.org/brochures-and-other-informational-materials

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Yvette Ingram PhD, LAT, ATC
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