Going to Rehab: Athletic Trainers Gear up for Seasons

August 17, 2012

Making its second appearance on the blog, I’m bringing back “Going to Rehab.” This will allow me to talk about anything sports medicine (as if I don’t anyway!). These are more issues that I see in athletic training and how it pertains to everyday athletic healthcare.

Here we are already halfway through the month of August and fall sports have begun. This is a busy time of the year for not only those sports, but for the staff that works to support them as well. For the athletic trainers, we have also kicked into high gear as we get ready to roll. In this article, I will explore the many different tasks we must get accomplished before the season begins.

Supply Ordering

This is a process that really begins back in May or June but I know for me I just got done with mine. We have to inventory the supplies so we know what we still have in stock and so we know how much to order. I don’t necessarily have a “set budget” or at least I don’t know the number if I do! This year is my first year in this current position and I ordered supplies fairly close to what the previous athletic trainer had ordered. I ordered a few more of a couple of items because I knew she ran out or ran low a year ago and I hope to prevent that. I have to order a variety of things including athletic tape, stretchy tape, bandages, gauze pads, and a lot of other things. We placed the order right at the end of July/beginning of August that way the supplies would arrive right before practices began. I would not have wanted them to arrive any earlier in the summer because then the coaches and athletes would have definitely gotten into them while I wasn’t there!

In addition, I have team kits to stock as well as my own bag that I must get ready for the various sports. Each sport requires me to have a little bit different supplies and equipment. Football obviously requires more and is by far the sport I take the most equipment to.

My equipment and supplies for a football game.

For football, for example, I have a portable treatment table, AED, splint bag, crutches, ice chest, facemask removal equipment, belt pack, and my athletic training kit. For home games, I’ll also bring out the golf cart in case we need it. Athletic trainers have to bring a lot of stuff because we just never know what is going to happen!

Physicals and Paperwork

Many athletic trainers have to handle all of the medical paperwork. Luckily for me, I do not have that responsibility and that is something the athletic director takes care of. However, I did participate in the physical examinations day that our clinic hosted along with our local family physicians. This is something we offer for $20 per kid, but all of that money is donated back to the school for their athletic department. 100 kids coming in during a 3 hour period can be frustrating, but it also can make that 3 hours fly by! We would perform orthopedic screenings and then send the kids back to see a doctor.

In addition, insurance forms, emergency contact forms, and in Illinois concussion forms must all be turned in. Somebody has to sort all of that out and organize it. Schools who have a full-time athletic trainer typically leave that up to them as a part of the sports medicine program.

Concussion Testing

Through a grant provided by Dicks Sporting Goods and their PACE program, we are able to utilize the ImPACT Concussion Testing. Many of the athletes who are returning were able to complete their baseline tests during last school year, but now I am trying to catch all of the newcomers and anybody who hasn’t taken it yet. We’ll utilize these results in the aftermath of a concussion as we’ll test that athlete again and compare the results. It is a part of our return to play procedures post-concussion.

Emergency Action Plans

Emergencies are unfortunately a part of athletics and as athletic trainers that is part of our jobs. We must be prepared for those kinds of things and it is important that we have a plan. These EAPs should be documented and shared with the coaching staff and administration.

In addition, it is a good idea to practice these scenarios as well. Having a written plan is great, but being able to actually execute the plan is most important. It would be a great idea to bring the coaches, athletic training staff, team physicians, and EMS all together to go through these plans prior to the season. Everybody has a job and they need to be ready to perform that job.

Athletic trainers are preparing for the upcoming seasons just like the coaches and players are. We have to be ready to go at any time. We want to keep the players on the field and allow them to perform to the best of their abilities safely.

Every Athlete Deserves an Athletic Trainer

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