NMC Commentary

Can an Athletic Trainer Help Prevent Injuries as Well as Treat Them?

Yes!  Athletic Trainers (ATCs – the C is for Certified) are important part of sports teams at all levels was well as an important part of our own team at Northwestern Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation.  March is National Athletic Training Month, so I am pleased to highlight their role, to highlight their work with our concussion protocol, and to let you know about a community wellness program our ATCs are offering on March 23.

Athletic Trainers are graduates of an accredited program and are described by their national association’s website “highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.”

Here at NMC, our ATCs are an integral part of our team, working with patients and with the athletic teams at a number of our local high schools. They are helping improve functional outcomes and provide education and approaches to prevent injury and re-injury. For example, the Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists in Northwestern Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation work together on our post-concussion program for individuals who have suffered a concussion (a mild traumatic brain injury) and who continue to have symptoms after a 2-3 week acute phase of recovery following the injury. This care is carefully individualized, as post-concussion syndrome can present differently for each individual. In alignment with state law relating to school-based athletes, our team uses the five step “Return to Play” program which involves working with an Athletic Trainer through a progression of physical activity for specified amounts of time, that grow increasingly sport specific, to ensure the athlete stays symptom free and can be safely cleared to return to action.

While you may be familiar with ATCs as treatment professionals, helping athletes of all ages and abilities recover from injury, prevention is an equally important focus.  ATCs have the expertise to help individuals avoid an injury in the first place, or prevent re-injury after recovery from an injury.  As part of their national month celebration, the Athletic Trainers at NMC are hosting “Sports Medicine In Action” – a free interactive event from 9am to Noon on Saturday, March 23 in the Rehabilitation Gym in Cobblestone Health Commons on the NMC campus in St. Albans. The invite says, “Whether you’re a weekend warrior, youth athlete, coach or parent, please join us to learn more about wellness and injury prevention. Learn from our top-notch team of Certified Athletic Trainers about how to prevent injuries, fuel your fun with nutritional tips and optimize your performance – for competitive sports or just for fun.” Please RSVP by calling 524-1282.

Active play is a wonderful part of staying healthy at all ages.  Whether it comes through formal organized athletic competitions, informal hobby enjoyment, or simply playing with friends and family, we are all a bit healthier when we are including active play in our day.  I appreciate having Athletic Trainers available both in our high schools and through Northwestern Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation to help keep all of us healthy as we play. I hope you will join our ATCs on March 23 for an energizing morning of prevention focused fun!  Click here to view the event page.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer