Concussions and the Athletic Trainer’s Role

unnamedCertified Athletic Trainers (ATC) represent the front lines in the concussion safety battle. The presence of an ATC dramatically increases the chances that a concussion will be diagnosed which is critical in not only avoiding a more lengthy recovery, but also the risk of permanent brain injury. Athletic Trainers have special training and knowledge about sports-related concussions and therefore will know as much, if not more, than other health care professionals.

Here is some general information regarding concussions:

  • A bump, a blow to the head or a blow to the body can cause a concussion.
  • A concussion can happen even if you don’t lose consciousness.
  • If you think you have a concussion, you should not return to play the day of the injury, but wait until a health care professional clears you to return.

Some common symptoms of concussions include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty remembering or paying attention
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Feeling irritable or more emotional
  • Feeling sluggish or groggy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitive to light or noise
  • Blurry or doubled vision.

So, what should you do if you think you have a concussion?

  • Don’t hide it. Report it. Do not ignore symptoms. Tell an Athletic Trainer or other health care professional.
  • Get checked out. Only a health care professional can tell if you have a concussion and can determine when it’s safe to return to play.
  • Take care of your brain. Rest is very important after a concussion to help your brain heal. Only once your symptoms have significantly reduced should you slowly and gradually return to daily activities such as work or school. If your symptoms come back or new symptoms occur as you become more active, this is a sign you are pushing yourself too hard. Stop all activities and take more time to rest.

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There are a few things you can do if you have a concussion. Be sure to get plenty of sleep at night and rest during the day. Avoid all activities that are physically demanding or that require a lot of concentration. Ask your doctor when you can safely drive a car, ride a bike or operate heavy machinery. Do not drink alcohol because it can slow your recovery time.

A Day in the Life of an Athletic Trainer

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Athletic Trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing and rehabilitating. This means keeping injuries from happening, identifying the nature of an illness or injury by examination of the symptoms and bringing a patient back to a healthy condition after an injury by using exercises and modalities.

Where do athletic trainers work?

You can find an Athletic Trainer in more places than you might expect. You can find them working in public safety, such as city government, law enforcement and homeless shelters. Athletic Trainers can also be found working in hospitals, military, performing arts, occupational health, physician extenders, colleges and universities, secondary schools and professional sports.

The Day-to-Day Tasks of an Athletic Trainer include:

  • Conducting an initial assessment of the patient’s injury and providing emergency or continued care
  • Determining whether the patient should be referred to a physician for definitive diagnosis and treatment
  • Evaluating a patient’s readiness to play and providing participation clearances when warranted
  • Applying protective or injury preventive devices such as tape, bandages or braces
  • Assessing and reporting process of recovering athlete to coaches or physicians
  • Caring for athletic injuries using physical therapy equipment, techniques or medication
  • Keeping records and writing reports on patients
  • Planning or implementing comprehensive athletic injury prevention programs
  • Inspecting playing fields to locate any conditions that could injure a player
  • Developing training programs and routines designed to improve athletic performance
  • Instructing coaches, athletes, patients or parents in the care and prevention of athletic injuries
  • Advising patients on the proper use of equipment.

An Athletic Trainer must possess the following skills in order to be successful: verbal, critical thinking, problem solving, math and science, technology design and control, and leadership.

Athletic Trainers work with people of all ages and all skill levels, from young children to soldiers and professional athletes. Athletic Trainers are usually one of the first healthcare providers on the scene when an injury occurs. They work under the direction of a licensed physician and with other healthcare providers, often discussing specific injuries and treatment options or evaluating and treating patients as directed by a physician.

We Prepare—You Perform

Did you know that March is National Athletic Training Month? Did you know that Clemson’s Campus Recreation offers athletic training services in Fike? Read on to find out all of the answers and more!

Before celebrating National Athletic Training Month, you must first understand the athletic training profession. Athletic trainers are healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians to return their patients back to full activity as quickly as possible. Through prevention, diagnosis and intervention of emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions, we are able to provide Clemson’s student body with orthopedic based healthcare that covers them from the gym and fields, to their residence halls and classrooms.

The Athletic Training Room in Fike provides the following services:

  • Clinical services for the evaluation and rehabilitation of orthopedic injuries
  • Walk-in services for evaluation, first aid, referrals and making appointments
  • On-field coverage for Club Sport’s practices and competitions
  • On-call support for Intramurals during open hours.

This year’s theme is We Prepare­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­–You Perform. This means that the athletic trainers focus on the preparation of the individual, which allows time for the student to focus only on performing and staying active. The athletic trainers do a lot of work behind the scenes, which allows the individual to perform at their very best.

Are you interested in how the staff at the Athletic Training Room could potentially help you? Here is Anastasia Homer’s story about how she overcame her injury with the help of athletic trainers.

AnastasiaAnastasia Homer, a PhD student and one of Clemson’s very own, injured her right hip two and a half years ago. She received treatments, pills and shots from several doctors. She began to give up hope that she would ever be able to walk comfortably or go hiking, which is one of her favorite things to do.

Anastasia was referred to Ryan, an athletic trainer who works for Campus Recreation. After just one session, he was positive that he could help her begin walking again and have her hiking comfortably.

Ryan worked with Lisa, a massage therapist at Fike, who also helped Anastasia work toward her recovery through an organized treatment plan. She began to see Lisa once a week and Ryan twice a week. Much of Anastasia’s success was due in part to the hard work and dedication of not only herself, but also Ryan and Lisa.

Although Anastasia’s hip may never fully return to normal, she is extremely happy with the progress she has made. Due to the athletic training and massage therapy programs at Clemson University, she is able to walk three miles every day and participate in group fitness classes at Fike. This experience has made Anastasia realize the simple joy of walking, and thanks to the Campus Recreation staff, she has her life back.

For more information about athletic training and what the athletic trainers at Fike can do for you, please visit http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-recreation/athletictraining/.