What Is Athletic Training?

Athletic Training is a field recognized and approved by the American Medical Association. Although traditionally associated with athletic injuries, Athletic Training has grown to include a wide variety of aspects, ranging from initial injury evaluations, rehabilitation, and prevention of injuries to the now common administration, education, and continuing education factors.

As long as there have been sporting events, there have been injuries. While at first, athletes of long ago primarily took care of themselves, ever-expanding research and methods have transgressed to the point where today we have specialists, concerned primarily with certain areas of medicine. One of those "specialists" is the Athletic Trainer.

Athletic Trainers are often called upon as the first person to see an injury. While physicians are still needed to properly diagnose and prescribe the best treatment to an injury, often Athletic Trainers are the ones who must care for an injury from the time of injury occurrence to the physician's care. Though traditionally associated with orthopedic (bone and muscle) type injuries, Athletic Trainers must be able to recognize a vast variety of medical problems than may not even be related to athletic competition.

Injuries are as individual as an athlete is. Even though an injury has occurred that the Athletic Trainer may have seen numerous times, it is imperative that the athlete's injury be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Injuries can never be "assumed". This primary care and evaluation is the traditional job description that Athletic Trainers face. Utilizing their vast background in anatomy and injury care, it is often the Athletic Trainer that has to make the first decision as to what is needed to best care for an injury.

Falling under the umbrella of "Sports Medicine", Athletic Trainers work with a vast part of the field of medicine. Often they will refer an athlete to any number of other specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons, internal medicine specialists, neurologists, dentists, physical therapists, or even to another Athletic Trainer for a second opinion. At all times the welfare of the athlete must be a priority. It is hoped that the extensive amount of schooling that Athletic Trainers need to achieve their title will help them in making their informed decisions.

As athletic competition demands continue to increase, it is nearly certain that the Athletic Training profession will need to expand and grow as well. Recently, the field has even branched out into non-athletic areas such as physical therapy clinics and industrial sites. Here, Athletic Trainers work with post-injury patients to help them recover, and may enter a work site to help monitor working conditions that may predispose an employee to an injury.

No matter the situation, it is required that the Athletic Trainer be prepared to act. As the future helps shape the profession, each individual Athletic Trainer must change with it for the better. In the end, it will help ensure that the athletic competitions all people enjoy will continue to maintain their competitive nature, while not compromising the health and safety of all participants and spectators. And, you yourself may very well one day acquire the assistance of an Athletic Trainer. Here's hoping it's for the better!

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