Athletic trainers, typically recognized for their work with athletes and treating injuries, have expanded their field by providing care for other professions.
Not to be confused with personal trainers or strength and conditioning coaches, Certified Athletic Trainers work to prevent, diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses for athletes.
Janelle Kratz, head athletic trainer at the University of Redlands, said athletic trainers are also qualified to respond to emergency medical conditions, including cardiac failure and cervical spine injuries.
“Athletic trainers are first-responders (and) on the scene immediately — trained to recognize emergencies and the best course of action,” Kratz said. “As emergency medical services are in transit, athletic trainers are facilitating necessary care and potentially minimizing further injury or serious illness.”
The National Athletic Trainers Association recognizes March as “National Athletic Traning Month” because of the hard work invested in the athletic training industry. This year’s theme is “Your Protection, Our Priority.”
Protection of patient health starts with efforts to recognize and prevent health risks. Injury and illness prevention can take many different forms depending on the setting. In an athletic setting, development of sports injury prevention exercise programs can decrease an athlete’s risk for injury.
Athletic trainers are found in many industrial workplaces requiring regular physical activity outside of the traditional athletic job settings. These settings include performing arts, military personnel, fire and police personnel, physical therapy clinics and hospitals.
In an industrial setting, a prevention program teaches employees how to properly move heavy items or improve ergonomics in their daily tasks to help reduce injuries that impede their ability to work.
Nate Swift, athletic trainer at Riverside Community College, spent 12 years working with performers at Disneyland. “Performers are a different breed of athlete,” Swift said. “Techniques I learned while working on dancers’ injuries have a big influence on techniques I now use on athletes.”
In the incidence of an injury, athletic trainers are properly equipped to diagnose and rehabilitate the individual back to his or her daily living and working activities.
Aidan Apodaca, junior kinesiology major and forward on the men’s soccer team, said athletic trainers are equipped for the physical and the emotional athletic obstacles.
“Athletic trainers play an important role because they always have your best interest in mind and help advise you in doing what is best for your health,” Apodaca said. “They are people you can confide in when you are having problems inside or outside of your sport.”