March is National Athletic Training Month and athletic training has evolved as more and more people find out that athletic trainers’ expertise has applications far beyond athletics. Sure, working with on the field (or court – it is time for March Madness) may be the backbone of our profession, but there is an ever-expanding list of non-traditional settings that athletic trainers are making an impact. Below are 10 settings you might not have realized utilized athletic trainers.
The men and women of the armed forces are active from boot camp through retirement and put themselves in harms way. Unfortunately, that can sometimes lead to injuries that require rehabilitation and special attention to get back to peak condition. Athletic trainers have been working with the military to help evaluate and treat our armed forces’ injuries – sprains, strains, concussions, nutritional issues, etc. Their presence during boot camp helps aid in injury prevention, keeping small, nagging injuries from turning into serious ones. Also, their role in orthopedic screens allows them to identify potential problems and prescribe appropriate stretches and exercises to soldiers, possibly preventing an injury from ever occurring!
Dancers are, for all intents and purposes, finely tuned athletes – jumping, sprinting, lifting, and performing ridiculous movements at near-impossible angles. It’s no wonder that over the course of a show’s run, ankles are sprained, shoulders inflamed, and toes, well, let’s just say they need attention. Dance companies, like the Joffrey Ballet, have found athletic trainers to be vital to keeping their top performers healthy, not only between performances, but during the performances themselves. It’s not uncommon for an injury to occur and an athletic trainer to have minutes to evaluate and treat an injury before a dancer heads back out to perform. The show must go on, right?
The Doctor’s Office
Athletic trainers’ command of anatomy, physiology, and orthopedic evaluations have made them an integral part of many doctors’ offices as physician extenders. Their experience in triage, taking patient histories, prescribing therapeutic exercises, and educating patients help to improve patient outcomes, allow doctors to focus on their practice, and can help lower health care costs!
The Operating Room
Much like the physician extender setting mentioned above, athletic trainers’ scope of practice allows them to assist in the operating room (OR). Athletic trainers in the OR assist with prepping the surgical site, dressing any wounds afterwards, educating the patient on wound care, how to use any medical equipment given, and teaching patients their home exercise programs.
Astronauts go through rigorous training and evaluations to make sure they’re ready for a trip to space. The last thing you want is to have to compromise a multi-million dollar mission because of a preventable injury. Luckily, NASA has utilized athletic trainers to keep our astronauts in peak physical condition, ensuring that doesn’t happen.
When most of us think of government employees, we think of people behind a desk, but a lot of government employees are very active. Fire departments, police departments, and the FBI are among the more prominent government services that utilize athletic trainers to help prevent, evaluate, and treat on-the-job injuries, allowing them to better serve the community.
Even the docile office environment has a reason to employ athletic trainers. Many companies have found that having an athletic trainer on staff helps to reduce health care costs. An athletic trainer’s experience in injury prevention can help identify ergonomic problems in work setups, screen employees for potential injuries, and advise ailing workers on stretches, exercises, and lifestyle strategies to help improve their health. All of this can help decrease insurance claims, worker downtime, and improve office morale.
Much like the office setting, athletic trainers are time and money savers in industry, helping workers in manufacturing plants and factories earn a living in a healthier environment. Athletic trainers can evaluate workstation setups to identify potentially hazardous situations, helping to prevent workplace injuries. They also help rehabilitate workers on-site, which improves their outcome through consistent treatment. Athletic trainers also utilize their overall knowledge of health to educate work forces on various topics. A healthier work force means decreased insurance costs, which makes everybody happier.
Athletic trainers working for universities and various companies play a vital role in researching a wide array of topics that affect nearly everyone on the planet. Research in health, injury prevention, injury treatment methods, and a near-infinite amount of other topics have lead to breakthroughs in rehabilitation, bracing, protective equipment, and injury prevention strategies. The outcome for people around the world can mean a more effective helmet, a shorter rehab after surgery, or even a saved life. For example, athletic trainers have been at the forefront of concussion research, helping to change the way we evaluate, treat, and educate the public on this serious injury – potentially saving the lives and quality of life of countless athletes, soldiers, and the general public!
Shows like The Biggest Loser hire athletic trainers to help keep their contestants healthy as they adjust to the sudden increase in physical activity. The WWE also hires athletic trainers to be part of their ringside sports medicine staff to ensure their stars stay as healthy as possible. If any show is active enough to have a sports medicine staff, you can probably assume an athletic trainer is in the mix.
As you can see, the profession of athletic training is evolving into nearly every area where people are active. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional athlete or office worker, every body needs an athletic trainer.