The certified athletic trainer (ATC) is a highly educated and skilled professional specializing in athletic health care. In cooperation with physicians and other allied health personnel, the certified athletic trainer functions as an integral member of the athletic health care team in secondary school, colleges and universities, sports medicine clinics, professional sports programs, and other athletic health care settings.
IT IS INCORRECT TO CALL THEM "TRAINERS!"
If you do this, you are not distinguishing between certified athletic trainers and a number of other professions that include the word "trainer," like personal trainers or horse trainers. Many occupations that hire people to give instruction of some kind to employees refer to these people as trainers as well. The overuse of the term devalues it. If you don't want to use the full name "certified athletic trainer," use "athletic trainer" or, best of all, "ATC."
Certified athletic trainers have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree usually in athletic training, health, physical education or exercise science. New standards enacted by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Board of Certification to take place 2004 will require that all candidates in hopes of being eligible for the certification exam must possess a post-baccalaureate degree in athletic training from an accredited college or university.
In addition to the introductory and advanced athletic training classes, athletic trainers study human anatomy, human physiology, Biomechanics, exercise physiology, athletic training, nutrition, and psychology/counseling.
ATHLETIC TRAINER'S ROLE
A certified athletic trainer has many different responsibilities when providing athletic health care. In March 1982 the National Athletic Trainers Association, in conjunction with the Professional Examination Service, completed a Role Delineation study. The study identified six "major tasks" or areas of competency for the certified athletic trainer.
- Prevention of athletic injury/illness
- Evaluation of athletic injury/illness
- First aid and emergency care
- Rehabilitation and reconditioning
- Counseling and guidance
- Organization and administration
PREVENTION OF ATHLETIC INJURIES
One major responsibility of the athletic trainer is to make the competitive environment as safe as possible to reduce the likelihood of injury. If injury could be prevented initially, then there would be no need for first aid and subsequent rehabilitation.
EVALUATION OF ATHLETIC INJURIES
Frequently, the certified athletic trainer is the person to see an athlete who has sustained an injury. The athletic trainer must be able to efficiently and accurately evaluate that injury. Information obtained in this initial evaluation may be critical later when swelling, pain and guarding mask some of the functional signs of the injury.
It is essential that the certified athletic trainer be alert and observe, as much as possible, everything that occurs in practice and games. Invaluable information regarding the nature of the injury can be obtained by actually seeing the mechanism of the injury.
The subsequent on-field examination should include:
Obtaining a brief "history" of exactly what happened
Range of motion evaluation
Muscle strength evaluation
Functional joint stability tests
Brief neurological examination
Information obtained in this initial evaluation should be documented by the athletic trainer and given to the physician if the athlete is to be referred.
FIRST AID AND EMERGENCY CARE
The certified athletic trainer is responsible for administering appropriate first aid to the injured athlete and for making correct decisions in the management of acute injury. The certified athletic trainer must possess sound skills, not only in the initial recognition and evaluation of potential serious life-threatening injuries, bur also in emergency care. The certified athletic trainer must be certified in CPR and first aid. Many athletic trainers have gone beyond these essential basic certifications and have completed requirements for emergency medical technician (EMT).
REHABILITATION AND RECONDITIONING
Once the certified athletic trainer or team physician has evaluated the injury, the rehabilitation process begins immediately. In most cases, the athletic trainer will design and supervise an injury rehabilitation program, modifying that program within the healing process. The certified athletic trainer must also be familiar with therapeutic modalities and therapeutic exercise techniques if the rehabilitation program is to be successful.
COUNSELING AND GUIDANCE
The certified athletic trainer is responsible for counseling and advising athletes not only with regard to rehabilitation and treatment specific to injuries but also on any matter that might help the athlete. It is the certified athletic trainer’s responsibility to keep all information in the training room confidential.
ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION
The certified athletic trainer is responsible for the organization and administration of the athletic training room facility, including requisition and inventory of the necessary supplies and supervision of athletic training students and student assistants.