Dozens of licensed certified athletic trainers and students majoring in athletic training met at the University Banquet Hall on the Aurora University campus Saturday to participate in the 12th annual Current Trends in Sports Medicine Workshop.
Oscar Krieger, Aurora University Athletic Training Education director, said the program usually attracts professionals from around the Aurora area, but that some travel from as far away as Bloomington to attend the workshop.
“We also require that our athletic training majors be here and they basically run the whole thing from checking people in to introducing the speakers,” Krieger said. “As far as topics go – we ask people through a survey given after the workshop how they liked certain presenters and what things they’d like us to consider for next year.”
Krieger said this year’s workshop was the largest ever, having grown from modest numbers both in terms of attendance and the number of students interested in the field.
“The first year we tried to do this in 2002, we had to cancel it because even though there was email back then, we weren’t connected as well and enough people didn’t show up,” he said. “We also only had about 10 to 15 athletic training majors at the time, and now there are 40.”
One of the first presenters was Dr. Bob Paras from Aurora’s Castle Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Paras spoke about medical cases in sports medicine as well as acute muscle injuries which included heat-related illnesses.
“With athletes such as football players, we’ve found cases of ‘sudden sickle cell trait’ which is a genetic disease where red blood cells are deformed and develop this ‘sickle’ shape to them which has sometimes led to death,” Paras said.
Paras also spoke about the growing concern about concussions and agreed there is a lot of ongoing research and that the public, in general, is talking about the dangers associated with them more.
“We need to establish more pre-injury baseline testing as well as have better rule enforcement in competition to reduce injuries,” Paras said. “It also falls on the athletes as well as the coaching staff to be more honest about reporting injuries.”
Those in attendance including Jill Ferree, an athletic trainer at Downers Grove North High School, said the workshop “was accessible and reasonably priced” and that for her, it has been an annual educational experience.
“I’ve come to all 12 of these, and I continue to participate because I get to learn about things that are sometimes out of my realm,” Ferree said. “I feel we get state-of-the-art information and that the people who present here are real professionals. Plus it’s a nice review of things …”
Students and graduates spoke about the program’s benefits, including Jordan Kinstner of Momence, who said she graduated two years from Aurora University and now works as an athletic trainer.
“I need to continue to earn continuing education units, and I feel they do a good job here with presenters,” Kinstner said. “I feel that I got an impeccable education here. A lot of these topics really hit home and for me – it’s a nice refresher.”
Drew Collom, who lives in Catlin and is currently a junior at Aurora University, said his ongoing studies in athletic training have given him a different perspective about himself, as well as others that continue to play sports.
“I played football here at the university my first two years, and this year I couldn’t, but I’ve had to take a look at things from a different perspective,” Collom said. “I realize by playing football, I put my body through a lot of stress, and I’m hoping to help other athletes in acknowledging the assumption of risk.”
David Sharos is a freelance writer for The Beacon-News