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Athletic Trainers Play Integral Role in Health Care

From Mark Seeley and Penny Grassel, Crossing Rivers Health Athletic Trainers

What is an athletic trainer?

Athletic trainers are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to prevent, diagnose and treat injuries and medical conditions for people in work, life and play including athletes, industrial workers, military service members, and public servants. We work closely with our physical therapists, physicians, and also with coaches, parents, and athletes to treat musculoskeletal injuries.

Athletic trainers should not be confused with personal trainers, who focus solely on fitness and conditioning.

Experts in managing injuries

We provide sideline care to the athletes of the Prairie du Chien, River Ridge, Boscobel, and Wauzeka-Stueben school districts. However, not all athletes wear jerseys - some are industrial athletes, such as tradesman, farmers, and materials handling occupations– require range of motion, strength, and stamina, and hold the potential for musculoskeletal injuries. The sports medicine model of medicine works well for these patients as time is of the essence to get them back to work and back to full income.

Athletic directors and coaches have their own jobs, which may pose a conflict of interest with athlete safety; they are not experts in managing injuries or sports-related illnesses, nor should they be responsible to do so. That’s where athletic trainers come in. Sports injuries can be serious; brain and spinal cord injuries and conditions such as heat illness can be life-threatening if not recognized and properly handled. We can treat acute injuries right then and there.

A continuum of care

There are also athletes that have chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma. These athletes can and do safely exercise and participate, and the athletic trainer can help manage these critical health issues as they relate to physical exertion.

Being on-site during sporting events, we work with athletes to avoid injuries. When an injury occurs, we provide immediate care; and we rehabilitate patients after injuries or surgery. It’s a continuum of care.