Athletic Trainers (AT’s) are health care professionals that work in a variety of settings and with a wide range of patient types. They are sports medicine specialists who focus on injury prevention, acute and emergent care, injury evaluation, diagnosis and rehabilitation, as well as functional return to activity. AT’s work as physician extenders, rehabilitation clinics, with performing arts, military, law enforcement, corporate ergonomics, and most commonly in schools, amateur and professional sports settings. The National Athletic Trainers Association (nata.org) is the national organizing body for AT’s and a valuable resource to the public.
AT’s have your back in many ways. We have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree which includes clinical hours as part of the curriculum. Over 70% of AT’s hold a higher degree than a bachelor’s. In order to practice in Texas, one must be licensed by the state. AT’s work hard with coaches, administrators, legislators, event organizers on-site to avoid injury and coordinate the best, most efficient medical care in the event of an injury.
AT’s save lives! AT’s help manage critical health issues such as asthma, diabetes, etc in the active population as well as are highly skilled in managing life-threatening situations on-site such as brain and spinal cord injuries, sudden cardiac conditions/arrest, severe heat illnesses, etc.
AT’s can treat a wide array of musculoskeletal injuries such as those to the back, neck, head, shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, hip, knee, ankle/foot in addition to recognizing, treating and referring common skin, general medical, psychological, emotional, neurological and nutrition conditions. By working with individuals (whether a factory worker, a Cirque du Soleil performer, an NFL football player, or a middle school soccer player) on-site, we can often quickly prevent, recognize, and treat various injuries, conditions, and illnesses to help provide a continuum of care to decrease time lost in work or participation.
This March, pay closer attention to those AT’s in your environment and thank them for their hard work, dedication, and expertise!
– Meghan McKay, MEd, LAT, ATC, ITAT