A certified athletic trainer (ATC) is a healthcare professional who works to enhance athletic performance. Athletic trainers work to provide excellent medical care to all athletes. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and intervention of emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions. Athletic trainers work under the direction of physicians, and require a state licensure and certification. Certified athletic trainers are trained in the prevention, recognition, management and rehabilitation of injuries that result from athletic activity.
At Delaware County Christian School, the ATC is responsible for the medical care of all athletes. The ATC is trained to evaluate injuries, develop treatment plans and initiate rehabilitation programs so that all athletes are able to compete at the safest, most optimum level. An ATC will be available at the school each day from 2:30pm-5:30pm for practices and games. In the event of an injury, the ATC will evaluate and treat the injured athlete. If an athlete should sustain an injury, the ATC is also trained to design and implement specific rehabilitation programs so that athletes can return to activity in the safest, most efficient way possible.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE ATHLETE IS INJURED
An athlete who is injured should see the ATC as soon as possible to obtain an accurate assessment of the injury. The ATC will outline a treatment program (stretching, therapeutic exercises, etc) that can be used to specifically target the injury and initiate healing. The ATC will also communicate with the coaching staff and parents with regards to the severity of the injury, treatment plan and expected return-to-play date. The ATC will communicate with the athlete and coaching staff on a daily basis for re-evaluation of symptoms.
WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE AN ATHLETE RETURNS TO ACTIVITY
In order for an athlete to return to activity following an injury, he or she must be able to pass a series of sport specific functional tests without any pain or limitation related to the injury. Some examples of functional tests include the following: jogging, sprinting, cutting, jumping, throwing, defensive slides, karaoke drills, ball dribbling, etc.
If an athlete is under the care of a physician for a sports-related injury, a clearance note from the doctor must be given to the ATC before the athlete returns to activity.
Every athlete participating in a contact sport is required to take an impact test prior to the first contest. An athlete who sustains a concussion will be required to take the impact test 24-48 hours following the head injury. After the test is taken and reviewed, a thorough evaluation of all signs and symptoms associated with the head injury will take place. The ATC will then communicate with the coaching staff and parents regarding the treatment protocol that will be followed.
Coaches are educated to detect concussion-like symptoms and remove athletes from play if concussion symptoms are present. Additionally, the PIAA has instructed contest officials to be trained to detect concussion symptoms and have players removed from the contest. If a PIAA official removes an athlete from competition, only a certified M.D. or D.O. may deem that player eligible again for competition.
Finally, through the DC Performance Training program, athletes are trained in a way that will help them become less prone to concussions by developing core strength, better body balance and strengthening the head and neck muscles. Concussion prevention is just as important as concussion protocol.