The Changing Roles of Athletic Trainers

Certified athletic trainers have a wide range of knowledge and skills. Certification is recognized in all states, except California, and requires continuing education to maintain. Courses have to be taken each year to keep trainers up to date on the latest technology, products, and techniques for all aspects of the job. The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) is the governing and certifying body for the profession.

What the Job Entails

Trainers are not the same as personal trainers, they are health care providers who work with physical therapists, doctors, surgeons, and rehabilitation professionals. They are trained in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic injuries, acute injuries, and minor injuries, such as pulled muscles, torn tendons and ligaments, and sprains. Examination and rehabilitation skills are also utilized.

Other aspects of the job are education and developing programs to strengthen the body. Educating athletes about the importance of stretching, proper rest, and excellent nutrition, among other topics, ensures they remain in top shape to avoid injury. Determining if extra support or stabilization is needed during activity. Wraps, bandages, and braces can be used to support knees, ankles, elbows, wrists, and key muscle groups.

Career Opportunities

Athletic trainers can work in a multitude of settings. Schools, municipalities, youth recreational programs, emergency rooms, physical and occupational therapy facilities, and rehabilitation centers. Other opportunities exist in performing arts schools, universities, and as part of medical teams for professional sports teams. Many police, firefighter, and military forces employ athletic trainers as well.

Tools of the Trade

Portable athletic trainer bags are essential to hold and carry medical supplies to treat injuries on the field, the court, the stage, or public places. Durable and lightweight bags are the best kind because they can be carried anywhere. Larger ones are available with wheels for safety and convenience.

Depending on the capacity of the position, trainers may need access to the medical histories and current conditions of players. Schedules of events, a list of any issues that arise with perfromers or team members, and private space for examination is important. Some trainers have access to special equipment, such as ice bath containers, ultrasound technology, and whirlpools.

Donna Mitchell