I asked this question tonight on Twitter. “Healthcare people, think about this: who do patients tend to like better… The doctors or the nurses? Why??”

What do you think that answer is? Who is it that patients and their families often comment positively about? My guess it’s not the doctor. Read the rest of this entry »

Sticking with the seemingly regular trend as we roll into 2015, I’m going to give you 15 reasons your school should hire an Athletic Trainer in the New Year… Read the rest of this entry »

Patient First

November 3, 2014

Healthcare providers often get mixed up in many different priorities when it comes to their jobs. We must remember to always put the patient first. They are the reason we are here. They must always be Priority #1. Do what is best for your patient. The rest will take care of itself.


Every Athlete Deserves an Athletic Trainer. #AT4ALL 

The most common discussion right now in sports is surrounding concussions. Last month, the National Football League settled with former players relating to a lawsuit filed regarding concussions. Not a day goes by that Twitter is not filled with headlines from concussions at the youth, high school, college and professional levels. Many states have taken some sort of step, they believe, through legislation but critics say that legislation does not go far enough. In many states, that is true as some of the most vulnerable athletes are left with no legal protection. In many states, the concussion legislation only covers high school athletes. Illinois is one such state that while legislation is in place, it goes nowhere near far enough. In Illinois, the only ones truly protected are those who compete for IHSA schools as the law mandates such schools to have policies in place in accordance with IHSA rules. But what about those schools who are not members of the IHSA? What about middle schools, junior highs, and elementary schools? What about club sports?

Let’s look a little closer and we’ll often find that legislation only mandates education. But what education is sufficient? What is overkill? And does the education work?

Here today I want to consider a multi-level approach to concussions. We cannot forget any of these levels because each piece is an important piece.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Concussions themselves do not worry me so much. They happen and they will happen regardless of what we do. The biggest concern to me is the lack of recognition and the lack of awareness after the fact. We must improve this aspect.


Education is at the forefront of everything we do in the concussion world. Parents, athletes, coaches, school administrators, and healthcare providers must be educated in concussion recognition and concussion management. But does the current education go far enough? I don’t believe it does. Too often do I continue to hear things such as “I don’t have a headache” or “I didn’t lose consciousness” as reasons for why people believe they cannot have suffered a concussion. There are about 25 concussion symptoms; headache is not the only one. So when you report several symptoms, but no headache, you are likely concussed! And a small percentage of concussions result in loss of consciousness. It’s important to note if LOC did occur, but the severity of the injury is not linked to that potential event.

Student-athletes and parents must be educated on the signs and symptoms of a concussion. It’s important that the parents be able to recognize these problems with their son or daughter and equally important for the athlete to report problems to their parents, coaches, and or healthcare provider. Additionally, it is crucial that the athletes report problems that their teammates are experiencing. When you see your teammate “not acting right” then you need to say something!

Coaches also must be educated in the recognition of concussions. At the high school and youth level, there is not always a healthcare provider available. The coaches must take on these responsibilities and if there is any question, hold the athlete out until they are seen by a healthcare provider. Additionally, coaches must be educated in proper techniques whether that be tackling in football, heading a soccer ball, or stunting in cheerleading. Coaches should regularly undergo education in safety topics.

School administrators also must be educated so that cognitive impairments are identified and can be corrected. Concussions don’t only affect the physical activities such as sports, but can have significant problems in an academic setting. Concussion management must be included at the schools too.

Healthcare Providers

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association now says that approximately 60% of high schools nationwide have access to an athletic trainer. Athletic trainers are healthcare providers specifically trained in athletic injuries and one such injury is concussion. Athletic trainers have long been on the forefront of concussion recognition and concussion management.60% of high schools may have access to an athletic trainer, but what does that really mean? If it’s like at my current school, it means there is a healthcare provider there occasionally. But what about all the other occasions? If it’s the case of many schools, the athletic trainer is often there for football games only or maybe varsity events. But what about that freshmen soccer game? What about that cheerleading practice? There are many incidences where athletic trainers are not present, but the school “has access.”

On this blog, I have long said “Every Athlete Deserves an Athletic Trainer.” The time has come that schools MUST have athletic trainers. These individuals must be certified by the Board of Certification and licensed by their respective state. An inability to hire a full-time athletic trainer is an inability to provide adequate athletic opportunities to a school’s students.

In addition to a certified athletic trainer, schools must have a team physician who is also trained in concussion management. The athletic trainer and physician must work together for all injuries for the safety of the student-athlete.

Protocols and Procedures

The last piece of the puzzle is having proper protocols in place. We cannot allow a student-athlete to simply return because they “feel better.” There is a lot of controversy with regards to things like neurocognitive testing, baseline testing, and return to play protocols. But utilizing the available resources the healthcare providers should be able to develop protocols that are sound. In our company, we do utilize ImPACT but that’s just one tool in the big picture. You must also have progressive return to play protocols so that you gradually increase activity before allowing one to return fully to sports.

As you can see, there are multiple avenues that must be undertaken in order to properly manage concussions. It is this management that can be life or death so it is vital that we get it right. Do the right thing, and take the steps necessary. Educate, hire proper healthcare professionals, and have protocols in place.

This is something I’ve thought about for a while, but recently it has come up more and more. I believe healthcare is a complicated world, but patient care must be at the center of it. Why else are we here?  Healthcare is about getting the patient well within our specific domains. There are many domains of healthcare from surgeons to non-operative medical care, to pharmaceutical to rehab, etc. We all practice within our specifics and for me that’s athletic training and rehab. I work in a physical therapy clinic and provide outreach athletic training services. But we interact with so many other healthcare professionals too. This post is based on conversations I’ve had with patients and a video that was shared in a work meeting last month. Read the rest of this entry »

Last year during National Athletic Training Month, I discussed the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s plan to evaluate a potential name change. You can read that post here.

This year I am enrolled through the University of South Florida as a graduate student and last week our discussion was about this very topic. I’d like to talk a little bit about that discussion as well as introduce a new year on the blog during National Athletic Training Month.

So What’s In a Name?

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s in a Name?

March 19, 2012

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”  William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet


What’s in a name? How does 50 years of history sound? How about the hundreds and thousands of hours spent promoting the name and the profession? Do we really want to throw away the work that those before us put in to make athletic training the profession that it is today?

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) has put together a group to study this very idea. In Canada, our brothers and sisters in athletic healthcare use the title “Athletic Therapist” rather than athletic trainer. But here in the USA, we are Athletic Trainers. Haven’t we been pushing for correct terminology for several years? To me, changing names will ruin a lot of those bridges we have built, those relationships formed, and the awareness that has been created.

As athletic trainers, we are healthcare professionals. That would not change with a name changes as the quote says. But we will confuse people when they call us the “athletic trainer” or even just “trainer” and we correct them with a new name.

We are healthcare professionals. We are Athletic Trainers.

If you’d like to read more, you can visit the statement put out by the NATA here.

Every Athlete Deserves an Athletic Trainer

Why do professions feel the need to step on another’s toes? In the healthcare field, politics continue to become more and more involved and I have to ask if the patients are truly benefiting from this? I wish it would end, but I don’t see changes happening anytime soon! The bickering will continue and the patients are the ones who suffer. Read the rest of this entry »

  1. A certified athletic trainer is the #1 healthcare provider trained and educated to work with athletes.
  2. A certified athletic trainer is trained to handle emergencies whether it’s a broken arm, a neck injury, or cardiopulmonary. All athletic trainers are trained in life-saving skills such as CPR and AED use.
  3. Athletic trainers are one of the best-educated professionals to recognize and manage concussions.
  4. Athletic trainers are proactive and spend a lot of time trying to prevent injury.
  5. Athletic trainers have hundreds of hours of related experience before they ever step foot into a full-time job. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s a post I originally wrote as my introduction over on TheConcussionBlog

I am currently a certified athletic trainer working in a physical therapy clinic and providing outreach coverage to high schools in the Metro-East St. Louis area. I graduated this past December with my bachelor’s degree in athletic training. People ask why I would choose a profession that is relatively low-paying and has the hours that athletic training often does. For a long time, I would say that it’s just what I love which is true. I love being around athletes, I love watching sports, and I have taken an interest into the healthcare of these athletes. But it goes back to high school for why I have become so passionate about this profession.

I suffered concussions in high school. Not a single one was ever diagnosed or even evaluated by a healthcare professional, but knowing what I know now I am certain I had at least 3 of them. Probably more than that. But even 4-5 years ago, we did not know very much about concussions. I “got my bell rung” but that was just part of being a football player. I can remember now two specific incidents where I am certain I had symptoms that went unreported. The first one was in a football game on a kickoff. I got hit from behind and my facemask actually got stuck in the ground. I got up a little bit dizzy and headed for the sideline—the opponent’s. I realized it quickly enough, but I developed a headache later. Again none of it reported. Then my senior year I was a catcher on the baseball team and took a foul tip off the facemask. I remember immediately everything going blurry and that lasted for several seconds. The headaches and some dizziness persisted for several days. The reason I did not say anything when it first happened was I wasn’t going to let an injury stop me being the catcher and so I played “tough.” I never reported symptoms to anyone because I didn’t feel like I could tell my coach and the athletic trainer was not at our high school very often for me to tell him. And I was like any other teenager: I hid things from my parents as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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