An athletic trainer is on the scene to diagnose bone and muscle damage on a sports player. He quickly assesses and carefully treats injuries, such as pulled muscles, wounds and broken bones, and confidently educates players on injury prevention. Athletes of all ages and abilities can be diagnosed and rehabilitated by an athletic trainer, in conjunction with a medical doctor or a healthcare provider.
An athletic trainer is usually first on the scene when a player is injured. Because of this, he needs to properly diagnose an injury and accurately converse with the player's physician. Details matter, such as how the player landed on the limb or whether it swelled immediately. It is crucial that information is factual, documented and well-communicated to all other healthcare providers and family members. In addition, a trainer must clearly communicate the rehabilitation requirements so that the player -- and others -- know exactly how to manage pain and therapy, for example.
Professional athletic trainers have at least a bachelor's degree in athletic training from an accredited school. Others go on to get a master's to be competitive at the university level. The ability to excel in math and science is necessary, as course work includes anatomy, physiology and physics. Continuing education is also important, as the American Medical Association demands that skills are kept current. In addition, an athletic trainer who teaches at a school may be required to have a teaching credential.
An athletic trainer is competitive by nature. He generally shares an athlete's love of the game and understands the desire to speed up rehabilitation processes. His job, however, is to evaluate when a player is ready to get back to the game by tracking progress and closely monitoring treatments. An athletic trainer's responsibility is also to explain the consequences of returning too soon to the game or what can happen if medical instructions are not followed exactly as directed.
An athletic trainer may be employed at a school, university, physician's office or recreational sports center, or by the military. A trainer must be adept at working with people of all abilities and ages, and have a stellar understanding of pain tolerance and the appropriate treatment options based on age. Athletic trainers work within the realm of the National Athletics Trainers' Association code of ethics, which explains the industry's high standards in patient care and treatment, and details the spirit in which decisions should be made.
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