March is National Athletic Training Month

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By Kyle Salomon,

March is National Athletic Training Month, but many do not fully understand want athletic training really is.

The exact definition for an athletic trainer is a health care professional who collaborates with physicians and specializes in the prevention, emergency care, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sports-related illnesses.

Mustang Public Schools head athletic trainer Chris Kromer said athletic training is a very important tool for schools to have on hand.

“One common misconception is that a lot of people think of us as like personal trainers,” Kromer said. “We are not personal trainers. We can act as personal trainers. We can design workout plans and make diet plans and those things, but we are a lot more.

“We are health care professionals who work in a variety of settings and with all kinds of people, not just athletes. Some examples of who we work with are physician extenders, performing arts, clinics, hospitals, law enforcement, military and sports officiating.”

National Athletic Training Association (NATA) Board of Certified (BOC) athletic trainers are educated, trained and evaluated in five major practice domains.

The five domains are No.1, prevention; No.2, clinical evaluation and diagnosis; No.3, immediate and emergency care; No.4, treatment and rehabilitation; No.5, organization and professional health and well-being.

Oklahoma regulates their athletic trainers under many guidelines. NATA has ongoing efforts to update practice acts that do not reflect current qualifications and practice of athletic trainers under health care reform. Athletic trainers also practice under the direction of physicians.

Athletic trainers must graduate from an accredited baccalaureate or master’s program, and 70 percent of athletic trainers in Oklahoma have a master’s degree.

Many athletic trainers work outside of athletic settings, providing medical services to people of all ages.

Many athletic trainers work in physician offices as physician extenders, similar to nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and other professional clinical personnel.

They also work in clinics with specialties in sports medicine, cardiac rehab, medical fitness, wellness and physical therapy as well as public and private secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional and Olympic sports.

There are many educational content standards that are required for athletic training degree programs.

Here is a list of the requirements:

Risk management and injury prevention, pathology of injuries and illnesses, orthopedic clinical examination and diagnosis, medical conditions and disabilities, acute care of injuries and illnesses, therapeutic modalities, conditioning, rehabilitative exercise and referral, pharmacology, psychosocial intervention and referral, nutritional aspects of injuries and illnesses and health care administration all fall under requirements for athletic trainers.

Ryan Flanary, physical therapist and vice president of Outpatient Services and Healthforce, said there is high importance for athletic trainers.

“The benefit for the student-athletes by having a PT or physician work closely with an athletic trainer is the communication of the entire health care team,” he said. “This allows all of us to monitor the progress or lack thereof of the student-athlete and make more informed decisions about how to best return him or her to their respective sport.  Athletic trainers onsite at events allows the rest of the medical team to understand exactly what happened, when it happened and what immediate steps were taken to minimize the effects of the injury.

“This is information at times is vital to rehabilitation of the student-athlete and helps to return them to optimum performance. Athletic trainers not only treat injuries and conditions which happen, but they are also there to serve the role of injury prevention. Most athletic trainers look at this role even more importantly because they want to prevent injuries from even happening and work with staff and other medical professionals to make corrections or policy changes to keep student-athletes safer at all times.”

Mustang High School’s athletic training program is one of the best high school athletic training programs in the state.

They have 15 high school students in the athletic training program, which has grown rapidly since Kromer took over four years ago.

“We are very lucky to have the committed and dedicated students that want to put in the work every day to make this program successful,” Kromer said. “Everything these students do is carefully monitored by myself. They go through rigorous training to be able to perform the duties we ask them to perform in our program.”

For more information on athletic training, go to www.nata.org,  www.oata.org or www.bocatc.org.