From sprains to concussions, injuries are a part of school sports. To help student athletes compete with fewer injuries — and to ensure proper care for injuries that do occur — more Missouri schools are providing students with access to athletic trainers.
“The national focus on athletes and concussion rates has put injury prevention at the forefront of sports medicine,” said Scott Hofer, D.O., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Lake Regional Orthopedics. “Parents, coaches and school administrators see the need to have proper prevention strategies in place, and that growing awareness has led to growing demand for athletic trainers.”
Lake Regional Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is helping to meet that demand, providing three athletic trainers — Tera Moritz, Kaelin Wilson and Zach Greco — at no cost to Camdenton R-III, Morgan County R-II and School of the Osage. National Athletic Training Month, held in March, recognizes these trained health care personnel for their work to increase the safety of competition.
“Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, assessing and treating injuries,” Dr. Hofer said. “That means Tera, Kaelin and Zach can help athletes avoid a lot of injuries and also can help them minimize the effects of injuries that do happen. Their presence on the sidelines helps student athletes keep off the injured list.”
The Local Impact
With the addition of Greco last fall, Lake Regional Sports Medicine now provides athletic trainer coverage for all high school and middle school sports at three local schools: Moritz serves at Camdenton R-III; Wilson, at Morgan County R-II; and Greco, at School of the Osage.
The athletic trainers arrive at games and practices early to help the athletes take preventative measures, such as proper taping and doing therapeutic exercises. Then, during practices and games, the athletic trainers keep a close watch on the athletes — including those on the opposing team. If the athletic trainers see, or suspect, an injury, they assess the athlete and, if necessary, start treatment.
If athletes require more care, Moritz, Wilson and Greco could also see them at Lake Regional Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, where the athletic trainers assist orthopedic specialists with clinic patient care.
In addition to sideline support during practices and games, Lake Regional’s athletic trainers provide education to coaching staff and athletes on such topics as nutrition, proper bracing and spine board use. Before kickoff of the football season, the athletic trainers performed the state-required baseline concussion testing for their schools. This test allows health care providers to gauge how well an athlete is recovering following a concussion.
A Rewarding Career
One of the benefits of providing this kind of health care is getting to be there for a patient from beginning to end.
“We see injuries right after they happen, and then we also see how those injuries look in the clinic,” Wilson said. “It gives us a fuller experience.”
“Seeing someone recover from an injury from start to finish and knowing that you were the one who helped them get through it is one of the most rewarding things about my career,” Greco added.
Another draw is interacting with students.
“It’s fun watching the kids I’m with every day play,” Wilson said. “You definitely get to know your athletes.”
“We are there to help take care of them,” Moritz said. “They understand that, and, if they need help, they come to us. It’s rewarding to build that relationship with them.”
For more information on Lake Regional Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, visit www.lakeregional.com/sportsmedicine.
Athletic Trainers: A Growing Trend
According to the Missouri State High School Activities Association, the percentage of Missouri public schools with at least one full-time athletic trainer rose from just four percent in 2010-2011 to 27 percent in 2014-2015.
“We are making this progress because people realize the importance of having a qualified health care provider present and are finding ways to make this happen,” the Missouri Athletic Trainers’ Association wrote in an October 2015 news release.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports an increase in demand for athletic trainers. In 2014, the bureau reported more than 22,000 athletic trainers employed nationwide, up from 16,000 in 2010. Unlike a personal trainer, who may or may not have higher education in health sciences, athletic trainers must obtain, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, board certification and state licensure.