What’s The Deal With Athletic Trainers? Fact vs. Fiction


We’ve all heard the title “athletic trainer”. You’ve probably even talked to one if you’re presently an athlete, used to be an athlete, or have a teenager that plays sports. But how much do you know about athletic trainers? Despite many misconceptions, athletic trainers (AT) are essential to the athletic world. They bring their own unique set of skills to the sports arena with the goal of keeping you and other athletes safe and injury-free.

Fact Or Fiction? Athletic Trainers Are Basically Personal Trainers.

Fiction. This couldn’t be more from the truth. Although both professions require education and certifications, personal training and athletic training have some distinct differences. Unlike personal trainers, athletic trainers focus on the prevention and treatment of sports injuries. They specialize in physical evaluations and risk assessments. They can also diagnose and treat injuries. ATs learn to recognize and assess high-risk to injuries. Although they can create programs that improve fitness for an individual, ATs focus on injury prevention as opposed to overall fitness. Furthermore, ATs follow the medical model of education, which includes academic curriculum and clinical training. It is an extensive education program resulting in a baccalaureate degree. Most ATs even go on to receive a master’s degree.

True Or False? You Can Go See An Athletic Trainer When You’re Injured.

True. You can go see an athletic trainer when you get injured, or when you’re concerned about pain. Many times, athletic trainers have close relationships with high schools, colleges, and sports organizations. Athletic trainers can recommend exercises or rest, and give differential diagnoses. However, there’s a caveat. Although athletic trainers can help you when you’re injured, they will recommend seeing a physical therapist who can put together an overall rehabilitation program. If the athletic trainers work with the physical therapist, they will continue to assist throughout the treatment.

Fact Or Fiction? Athletic Trainers Can’t Diagnose.

Fiction. Although ATs are not doctors, they can offer differential diagnoses at the time of the injury. They will recommend follow-up appointments with physical therapists or physicians if the injury is more serious. ATs are part of the overall sports medicine team and are the first ones on the scene when a player is injured. They can administer first aid and determine whether a player needs further medical assistance. However, they are not considered health care professionals, like physical therapists and sports medicine doctors. The American Medical Association, Health Resources Services Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services recognize athletic trainers as essential allies in the health care profession.

ATs Are Essential To Overall Athlete Care.

From coaches to team physicians, physical therapists, and personal trainers, athletic trainers are essential to the overall care of an athlete. They help athletes prevent injuries, but they are also there when an athlete gets injured. OSR employs certified athletic trainers that hold close relationships with high school sports teams as well as club organizations. They work with coaches and physical therapists in keeping the athlete injury-free and make a full and strong recovery.