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What Does a Certified Athletic Trainer Do?

Whether it's football, basketball, field hockey or soccer, the odds of an athlete getting injured on the sports field are real, and could be significant. Who takes care of the athlete if there is an injury? Does the school have an emergency plan in place?

Certified athletic trainers (ATC) are most often the quick-thinking staff members who are on the scene first when a sports injury occurs. In the summer of 2001, the American Medical Association adopted a policy recommending that all high school athletic programs provide a certified athletic trainer for sports activities.

Certified athletic trainers have, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree in Athletic Training and must have fulfilled the requirements for certification established by the National Athletic Trainers' Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC).

The BOC examination requires knowledge in: the prevention of athletic injuries; recognition, evaluation and immediate care of athletic injuries; rehabilitation and reconditioning of athletic injuries, and health care administration.

Before practice, a certified athletic trainer tapes, bandages, wraps and braces an athlete to either protect a current problem or help prevent an injury from occurring. During practice, the ATC evaluates injuries and determines whether the injury needs a physician's attention. It is the athletic trainer's role to ensure continual communication between the injured athlete, physician, coach, and parents on when and how the athlete can return to practice and competition.

Certified athletic trainers can be found in schools, on the sidelines of professional sports, in hospitals and clinics, and in the industrial setting as the profession that began with college sports expands to guard the safety of people involved in physical activity.