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Athletic Trainers Integral Members of Health Care Team

March 02, 2018



Immediately following a sports injury, certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are among those who can provide the most thorough injury assessment of what needs to happen next to reduce the long-term effects of an injury. What type of medical care is necessary? How soon can play or physical activities be resumed? What corrective techniques or exercises are best?


ATCs are unique health professionals who are experts in injury prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation, particularly in the orthopedic and musculoskeletal disciplines. They are often the first to respond to an injury.


This month, Franklin Memorial Hospital’s ATCs are celebrating National Athletic Training Month. They include Jeremy Starbird, ATC, and Heather Mitchell, ATC.


“National Athletic Training Month was established so that we could do a better job of educating the public about our profession and our quality and level of care,” said Starbird. “We want people to know that athletic trainers are integral members of the medical or athletic health care team and work hand in hand with physicians and other health personnel.”


Mitchell provides her expertise to athletes at Mt. Blue High School, while Starbird works with Mt. Abram and Spruce Mountain High Schools. Each provides game and practice coverage, which enables them to provide immediate medical attention when an athlete is injured, as well as a role in the rehabilitation and decision making associated with the athlete’s care. ATCs also provide guidance and assistance to coaches during preseason conditioning and throughout the season.


During the weekly Sports Medicine Clinic one of the athletic trainers is there along with Dr. Thomas Pulling and Heather Patterson, PT, to round out the health care team that evaluates and treats high school, college, and recreational athletes. The clinic takes place every Wednesday morning starting at 9 a.m. at Franklin Health Orthopaedics.


During the course of a school year, Mitchell and Starbird collectively provide about 1,300 treatments for athletes who have been injured or are experiencing pain. They manage the care of injuries such as ankle sprains, concussions, knee injuries, and fractures while coordinating treatments with the rest of the health care team (primary care physicians, emergency department providers, physical therapists, and specialists such as orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, and dieticians).


In closing, the ATCs said that injury rates could be reduced if athletes took appropriate preventative action, such as: wearing appropriate protective gear, equipment, and footwear; doing a proper warm up before exercise; and following a regular conditioning program during the off-season.

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