The Role of the Athletic Trainer
By Angie O’Connor
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital Community Wellness Coordinator
The Athletic Trainer plays a quiet role diligently over the course of the athletic seasons and beyond, sometimes without notice until an injury or event occurs. They then come off of the sidelines and to the rescue of the athlete in need. But they play a larger role than most know. The responsibility of the athletic trainer is vast and includes preventing, diagnosing and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. They can work with people of all ages and skill levels, from young children to professional athletes.
Athletic Trainer Trevor Woods, certified by the National Athletic Training Association Board of Certification, licensed by the South Dakota Board of Osteopathic Examiners and employee of Avera Sacred Heart, provides services to the Yankton School District athletes. For the last twelve years he has been a part of each and every season.
One of his most important responsibilities is to help keep the athletes safe and healthy. Preventative exercise, pre/post practice event treatment and advice are provided throughout the course of the seasons to keep these athletes from getting hurt. Coverage is provided at all high school varsity and sub varsity school sponsored events, where on most occasions, the athletic trainer is the first one in the training room and the last one to leave. Should an athlete get injured during a practice or event, the trainer is there to provide immediate care and direction. He works with the athletes, their parents, coaches, therapists and physicians to provide a continuum of care throughout the entire process, including post injury care and treatment to get them back out playing again as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, an estimated 4-5 million head injuries occur on the playing field each year. That is why every fall season, Trevor works to evaluate local athletes through the “ImPACT” (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) program, something which he played a leading role in implementing. This program evaluates healthy athletes pre-season to provide a baseline test of cognitive abilities. If an athlete suffers a concussion, they are retested through the program. The results play a large part in determining when it is safe for an athlete to return to play.
When the school year is over, the role of the athletic trainer doesn’t end. Locally, Trevor provides a summer program for athletes to hone in on their skills, improve their abilities and reduce their risk for injury during the season. The Intensive Challenge Program and Junior Challenge program offered through Avera Sacred Heart Wellness Center helps athletes improve agility, coordination, speed, strength, flexibility and more.
Even though you may not have noticed the Athletic Trainer on the sidelines, hopefully you know now the very important role they play in protecting the athletes playing the game.