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What is an athletic trainer? You might be surprised.

An athletic trainer works with an athlete on a ball field.
Blog

/ by Peter Gray, MA, LAT, ATC

Athletic trainers are a critical part of any sports medicine team, but some people might be confused about what we actually do.

Athletic trainers are certified healthcare professionals, and we collaborate with physicians to help both serious and recreational athletes achieve their goals, while providing comprehensive care along the way.

What we do

Athletic training involves the prevention, examination and diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports-related injuries. Our main duty is to ensure the safety and health of our athletes.

We are present at games and practices to provide emergency and acute injury treatment. When an injury happens, we are on the field to evaluate and provide care. The initial evaluation of an injury starts with assessing the severity of the injury and then taking a course of action. That could mean anything from providing CPR to taping an ankle to allow an athlete return to play. Much of our other time is spent in the athletic training room where we evaluate athletes, manage their rehabilitation and help them complete preventive therapy programs.

We’re sometimes confused with personal trainers, but our education, skillset, job duties and typical patients are much different. Becoming an athletic trainer demands extensive education including graduating from an accredited athletic training curriculum, as well as additional certification and licensing.

Athletic trainers work in a variety of environments, including high schools, colleges and universities, professional sports, hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, corporations, the military, and the performing arts.

Athletic trainers at UK HealthCare

UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine has the region’s largest certified athletic training staff and provides outreach athletic training services to numerous schools across the Commonwealth.

Our team has provided athletic training coverage for all six Fayette County schools since 1996, and we provide services outside of Fayette County as well. Team members work at Woodford County High School, Frankfort Independent High School, Pulaski County High School and Southwestern High School, in addition to several other school across the state.

We also play an integral role in Kentucky High School Athletic Association state events by providing medical coverage for state competitions in cross-country, soccer, football, cheerleading, dance, archery, baseball, basketball and wrestling.

When we evaluate an injury that needs imaging or further evaluation in the clinic, we refer our athletes to the UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine walk-in clinic, where they are seen the next morning. From there, we have open communication with our doctors regarding the injury, treatment and plans to help our athletes get back in the game.

As athletic trainers, our work constantly keeps us on our toes. But one thing remains the same no matter what we’re doing: Seeing athletes overcome their injuries and ultimately return to succeed in their sports is the best feeling in the world.

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