The Importance of Athletic Trainers

Image shows an athletic trainer working on an athlete
Photo courtesy of Wallace State Community College

Athletes know there are risks while they are playing the sport that they love. Sometimes, these risks can be small, such as jamming a finger. Other times, it can be a career ending or even a potentially life-threatening injury. Many schools have athletic trainers on site at all times to ensure that injuries are treated and taken care of as quickly as possible. An athletic trainer applies protective or injury-preventive devices on athletes such as taping, bandaging, or braces. They are also able to evaluate injuries and provide first aid or emergency care. In rare cases, the athletic trainer can save a life.

Last February, at a high school hockey practice at University of Detroit Jesuit High School in Detroit, athletic trainer Eric Schwab saved a player’s life. At the end of the practice just before the team was getting off of the ice, Conor Place, a sophomore, collapsed on the ice. Schwab first thought that the player was having a seizure, but then was unable to find a pulse. Schwab started chest compressions, until the Hazel Park Police Department took over for him. The police administered a defibrillator to shock his heart, and within one shock, his pulse was back.

Schwab works for the Henry Ford Health System and is one of a number of certified athletic trainers contracted to work at high schools, colleges, universities and professional sports teams in the area.

Paige Kast is the athletic trainer at Oakland Community College. “I am present for all home events, except home golf matches because they are off campus,” Kast said. Kast develops rehabilitation plans for those who get injured, so they can possibly get back to their sport sooner. Kast said that most people don’t know what she does beyond helping injured athletes. “I am in charge of submitting claims to our insurance company to cover the medical expenses of our injured athletes. I am responsible for creating injury reports (soap notes) for all injuries that happen,” Kast said.

Out of everything that she does on a daily basis from treating injuries to writing injury reports, Kast believes that the most important part of her job is building relationships with the players. She says, “Having that trust and relationship built is crucial when an injury occurs. It is also very helpful in getting the athlete to be compliant with rehab exercise plans.” In some cases, schools are not able to get the right equipment for the trainers to help the athletes. This can cause serious injuries of the players to go unnoticed for some time, or for an injury to even get worse.

Jamie Corona, Oakland Community College’s Athletic Director, believes that her school has provided the right tools for Paige Kast to help the athletes. Corona also says that she has high expectations for the athletic trainer: “I expect that my athletic trainer is highly qualified, has a flexible schedule, he/she is reliable, communicates well with the athletes, staff and myself and provides quality care for all athletes.”

Corona also said in addition to attending all home events, the trainer even travels with the team post-season. This is important because even when a sport is not in season and athletes are still training, there is still the possibility that an injury could happen.