ADVOCATES FOR SAFETY
The Hidden Benefits of Having a Full Time Athletic TrainerAs a visitor to this site, you may already know some of the empirical benefits of having an athletic trainer at a high school—lower overall injury rate, lower recurrent injury rate and higher concussion diagnosis rate (this is a good thing), to name a few. There are also significant, unpublished benefits to employing a full time athletic trainer as opposed to one who is only at the school during practices or games.
It Benefits the Coaches
Full time athletic trainers are uniquely qualified to facilitate 360 degree communication between the coach, the athlete (and/or their parents) and if applicable the athlete’s physician. In the morning the AT can communicate with the physician on the athlete’s progress, get feedback from the athlete during their lunch break and email their status to the coach before afternoon practice. This circle of communication not only provides full transparency during the student’s healing process, but also gives the coach the time necessary to plan a day’s game or practice based on the student’s participation status.
Yet another advantage enjoyed by coaches with full time athletic trainers on staff is the ability to focus solely on coaching. In some situations, the coach’s role expands to overseeing athletic injuries after completing first aid training, placing them under undue stress and unnecessary risk of liability. With an athletic trainer on staff, the coach can put all their energy into helping the team win.
It Benefits Athletic Directors
In an increasingly litigious society, it is more important than ever to keep detailed records. In an area as sensitive as student health, who better to maintain and update these records than an athletic trainer who sees these students every day? These records may include PPE results, student athlete interaction and rehabilitation notes.
It Benefits the Parents
Parents of student athletes not only benefit from the injury prevention services of athletic trainers, but also their injury rehabilitation services. With a full time athletic trainer at their child’s school, parents don’t need to take off work to for their child’s physical rehabilitation appointment and save money on those associated costs. Of course, if the parent has a preferred rehabilitation provider, the athletic trainer can work with them when rehabilitation is complete to make sure the student is effectively transitioning back into participation.
It Benefits the Students
Athletic trainers have the student athlete’s best interest mind, arguably as much as anyone else at the school. Athletic trainers want to see students excel on the field, but never at the cost of putting themselves at an unnecessary risk of injury. It’s the athletic trainer’s job to ensure that the student athlete has the best possible high school athletic career while keeping them healthy for their future, in sports or otherwise.
Despite these benefits, less than 40% of high schools have a full time AT. Learn how you can get an athletic trainer funded at your school and read a whitepaper on the efficacy of ATs in Arkansas high schools.
About the Author
Dale Grooms, ATC has served as the head athletic trainer at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois since 2000. He was a contributing author on the NATA Secondary School Value Model and currently serves as the District 4 representative to the NATA’s Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee. Dale has also authored or co-authored several NATA Now blog posts including “Your Own Sports Medicine Conference”, “Concussion Care Requires Communication” and “Helping ATs Help Transgender Students”.