According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, it seems that less than half of all high schools in America have access to a certified athletic trainer, even though a staggering 7.7 million students participate in competitive athletics. These figures are quite worrying, as Red Bank Regional athletic trainer Christina Emrich pointed out, “athletic trainers are the first line of defense on the fields…They save lives.”
In some states however, the numbers are much better, such as New Jersey where trainers are working in 86 percent of high schools and 93 percent of public schools. But this just means that the average figures – as noted above – are indicative of some extremely troublesome low numbers elsewhere. Perhaps it is therefore not surprising that New Jersey recently held a Certified Athletic Trainer Spring Giveaway organized by JAG Physical Therapy to thank the Athletic Training Community for their hard work and dedication throughout the long athletic season. The winner was the one judged to have the “most interesting case of the year.”
One student – Keone Osby – knows firsthand how important it is to have these trainers around from when he dislocated his right shoulder during a wrestling match, partially tearing the labrum ligament. He received immediate treatment from athletic trainer Lee Ann Pearce who thereafter suggested he consult a specialist, even though he insisted the pain had significantly diminished. The MRI showed a 60-percent tear and Osby therefore underwent surgery. Had he not have gone this route, he wouldn’t be able to compete in the same way.
Ultimately there are always going to be sports-related injuries and by not employing these special athletic trainers, they may often go untreated, resulting in much greater long-term damage to the athlete, even potentially preventing them from competing later on.