Athletic Trainer’s Role Beyond Just Athletics

Athletic Trainer’s Role Beyond Just Athletics

By Angelo Marsella MA, ATC, USAW |Director, Athletic Training Services

Most of us of think that athletic trainers (ATs) are just the people who run onto the field when an athlete gets injured. Few might be aware that AT’s job continues both on and off the field, treating all kinds of conditions and people – not just athletes.

As healthcare professionals, athletic trainers (ATs) are well-versed in the evaluation and treatment of a wide range of injuries, conditions, and issues. This can encompass everything from a sprained ankle to cardiac arrest and even an emotional problem. We’ve all seen ATs on the field taping ankles, stretching players, administrating CPR, or splinting an injury. They typically work as an extension of the overall medical team. But there’s a lot more they do beyond just athletics.

Their super versatile role has never been more apparent this month. Every March is National Athletic Training Month, an initiative supported by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). And the 2023 slogan is “There’s an AT for That” which celebrates the breath of medical conditions and other services ATs are trained and equipped to do.

Professional’s Angelo Marsella, Director of Athletic Training Services, MA, ATC, USAW, shares his thoughts on this year’s theme and comments, “I am thrilled that this year’s NATA theme shines a light on the extensive training and education ATs have, allowing them to handle a wide variety of situations and conditions. Attention should also be brought to ATs stepping into the unique position of helping athletes manage their mental health. This often happens because of the deep relationship and trust that develops over time. I am excited to celebrate all athletic trainers for the outstanding work they do every day, on and off the field.”

Athletic and General Medical Conditions ATs Treat

Athletic trainers are competent health care professionals that not only prevent, diagnose, and treat athletic injuries, they are also trained to identify and treat many more general medical conditions from head to toe. There’s an AT for every one of these conditions and more!

  • Concussions
  • Exertional heat illness
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Sickle cell trait
  • Spinal injuries
  • ACL injuries
  • Skin disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Musculoskeletal injuries

ATs are Trained and Educated in 6 Practice Domains

According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Board of Certification (BOC) certified athletic trainers are educated, trained, and evaluated in six major domains of clinical practice and some of them might surprise you:

  1. Prevention-ATs can identify any weaknesses or conditions that may be leading to your injuries and plan preventive measures to correct them
  2. Clinical Evaluation and Diagnosis-ATs are often the first person to see an injury occur during an event. The ATs must be able to provide a clinical diagnosis to determine a plan of care.
  3. Immediate Care- Athletic trainers are skilled medical providers who are trained in first aid, CPR, and automated external defibrillator use (AED) in the case of sudden cardiac arrest. With their advanced medical education, ATs are prepared to handle emergency situations that may arise, especially on the playing field.
  4. Treatment, Rehabilitation and Reconditioning- Return to play is unique to each athlete and injury. The goal of functional testing and injury recovery is to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the playing field when returning from an injury. ATs are educated in the psychological aspect of injuries as well and can support and push their athletes towards their goals
  5. Organization and Administration-Inventory, injury reports, athletic training room rules, EAPs and policies and procedures are completed and rehearsed frequently to ensure the athletic training room is running smoothly.
  6. Professional Responsibility-ATs follow the Code of Ethics, Standards of Professional Practice set in place by NATA and the BOC as well as their respective state’s regulations.

Athletic Trainers’ Work Environments

Versatility is not only seen in the conditions ATs treat and their clinical practice domains. Their work environments are just as diverse. In fact, over half of practicing athletic trainers work outside of a school athletic setting and provide services to people of all ages and professions.

According to the NATA, athletic trainers work in the following job settings.

  • Public and private secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional and Olympic sports
  • Youth leagues, municipal and independently owned youth sports facilities
  • Physician practice, similar to nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and other professional clinical personnel
  • Rural and urban hospitals, hospital emergency rooms, urgent and ambulatory care centers
  • Clinics with specialties in sports medicine, cardiac rehab, medical fitness, wellness, and physical therapy
  • Occupational health departments in commercial settings, which include manufacturing, distribution, and offices to assist with ergonomics
  • Police and fire departments and academies, municipal departments, branches of the military
  • Performing arts including professional and collegiate level dance and music

 If you are in pain, our certified physical therapy professionals,  athletic trainers and sport medicine specialists at Professional Physical Therapy can assess the problem and customize a plan just for you. If you need pain relief, request an appointment at Professional. We are here to help you reach your goals and get your life healthier and more comfortable today.

National Athletic Trainers’ Association: Job Settings
National Athletic Trainers’ Association: NATM 2023 “There’s an AT for That” Poster

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