College and University

Behind the scenes look at process of Ohio State athletic trainer Behind the scenes look at process of Ohio State athletic trainer


Article reposted from The Lantern

Injuries go hand in hand with athletics.

Athletes in all sports have to constantly manage them, even if not recovering from injuries, taking the necessary steps to prevent injuries from taking place.

Therefore, in order to fully understand sports at Ohio State, it is important to consider the health of the athletes and the people in charge of ensuring an athlete’s safety. Athletic trainers are an ostensibly underappreciated yet critical component to the Ohio State Department of Athletics.

Currently, Ohio State staffs approximately 19 athletic trainers, eight interns and two physical therapists. There are also 10 team physicians, four sports medicine fellows, four nutritionists,  several sports psychologists, a dentist and a pharmacist, all of whom collaborate with the athletic trainers.

Throughout each season for the sports, an athletic trainer will constantly need to be on site, whether it be at practice or during a game, to be there should something go wrong.

Katie Walker, an athletic trainer who specializes in tennis and women’s soccer, stressed just how different the experience is for every trainer based on the injury-risk of the sport.

“Soccer, obviously, is a higher-risk sport, from an acute contact injury standpoint,” Walker said. “So with soccer I’m really dialed into what’s going on in the play; people going up for headers, sliding into people.”

Walker added that keying in and evaluating an athlete’s current condition while simultaneously judging how an injury impacts the athlete’s play is a necessary skill for an athletic trainer. For example, tennis players would be assessed on their form and their swinging technique in order to see how an injury might be affecting performance.

In fact, the process of guiding an athlete through an injury is one of the primary  responsibilities  for any athletic trainer.

“Once you start to know your athletes and know their personalities and have treated them through so many injuries, it just becomes fun to watch people you know and to watch people who you helped get back on the court or back on the soccer field,” Walker said. “And that’s really where the enjoyment for athletic training comes from.”

Walker said there are multiple steps to addressing an injury during a game. The first action the protocol calls for is evaluating if the injury is major or is a high-risk type of injury.

If the injured player is physically capable of moving himself or herself to the sideline, the trainer will move the athlete to the sideline and further evaluate the injury with the available team physician. Treatment such as ice or taping then might be applied on the field to reduce recovery time.

After the game, more in-depth treatment like crutches or walking boots would be applied in the athletic training facilities. Documentation is the final step, as all athletic trainers must report any sort of injury into their computer medical database.

Preventing injuries is another key component to an athletic trainer’s arsenal. The term “prehab” is used among athletic trainers  to describe preventing future injuries with players who are currently rehabbing.

Walker said prehab consists of working with strength and conditioning coaches to incorporate exercises that focus on building muscle in areas with high-risk injuries, such as ACLs and shoulders.

Athletic training also relies heavily on being updated with equipment and technology. Like any medical field, having the best techniques and technology allows for quicker recovery and eases an athletic trainer’s job.

Women’s soccer uses Polar Team Pro heart rate and GPS monitors in order to track cardiovascular and muscle stress.  Another technology utilized is Omegawave, which is a system of electrodes that calculate changes in heart rate, which aids with recovery. Omegawave can also highlight any cardiovascular discrepancies that might impact an athlete’s ability to play.

Other techniques and equipment are vastly improving and the idea of unique improvements to the athletic training field is being constantly recognized every year.

The concept of athletic training is much more than simply concussion protocols and taping ankles. Although they might not be starring in any of the hype videos or postgame interviews, the athletic training staff are essential for keeping Ohio State’s athletes continually performing at high levels.

College and University

Q and A with Ohio State athletic trainer Doug Calland


It's a great way to wake up and I feel I have the best job for me and my career and I really enjoy it

We get a good look at the final product of our Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturdays, and are always impressed with what we see. But there is obviously a lot that goes on behind the scenes to helping create and protect that final product.

We talked to Ohio State athletics co-head trainer Doug Calland, who has been at the school since 1995, to get a better look at what goes on behind the scenes at practice, in the weight room, and even at the Wexner Medical Center.

Land-Grant Holy Land: How do you and your staff respond to new concussion research, and what steps are taken to keep you and your staff up to date?

Doug Calland: With all of our team physicians and as well as our consultants within the Wexner Medical Center here on campus we do have good communication as far as what is going on with concussion research. We have research that is ongoing at Ohio State as well as with the Ivy League and the Big Ten Conference. Any of the latest research that is coming out is filtered out through our neurosurgeon or team physicians and we then evaluate that and move in the way that we need to make sure that we are taking care of the student athlete the best way.

I will say that we have been operating pretty much ahead of the curve as long as I have been here on managing concussions, making sure that everybody is communicated with as far as how we manage both evaluating the concussion and post-evaluation of the concussion. As far as research goes I think that’s kind of filtered through our team physicians. There are medical supervisors so to speak, and we are certainly operating in the interest of the student athlete and apply those policies with that in mind.

LGHL: How often are policies for concussion updated, and how often is the protocol for treatment evaluated?

Calland: We review all of our policies annually. All of us sit down with our admin group of team physicians, and look at all of our policies top to bottom, what do we need to change, what do we need to adapt, what do we need to do differently. If there is something that comes out, research tends to be not so quick. There’s some research findings that actually come out that we may adjust if it is something we are able to, but the research world operates a lot more slowly than probably we do. But annually we do respond to best practices, and operate within all of our policies based on those best practices.

LGHL: When it comes to the medical side of things, are you guys independent or do you work with the state of Ohio?

Calland: We are independently aligned with our team physicians. As athlete trainers, we are extensions of our team physicians, and all the medical care is directed by our team physicians who all work under the Ohio State sports medicine center which is supervised in the Wexner Medical Center. So we are making decisions on athletes care through our team physicians who are working outside of athletics.

LGHL: How do you go about finding people to add to your staff? What processes are gone through to help fulfill your staff and fining people that will end up taking care of the athletes?

Calland: Well I think our process is if we have any vacancies or if we feel like we need to provide care that we are not currently providing, I have been here since 1995 and we have added several staff positions over the years to help with our coverage of our athletes on all of our 36 teams, so it just depends on our needs on whatever sport we need to make sure we are covering differently. I think we are able to provide all of our athletes very good care from an athletic trainer team standpoint, and if those become open then we have a position open, and we have the best person.

LGHL: So would you try to fill positions based on needs of sport, or would you hire the same type of staff members across the board?

Calland: I think to a certain extent it is sport-specific. Some of the high impact sports probably warrant somebody being present at all workouts and all practices. Golf, probably is covered a little bit differently. They do have access to medical care and physicians and at events, but they don’t need to have an athletic trainer. It is sort of driven by the sport.

LGHL: Let’s say you see a method of weight training that was going on in the weight room, and based on some research you guys have or what you guys feel is best practice, would you guys intervene with the weight training staff and what is going on in the weight room?

Calland: We actually have meetings certainly monthly, if not as a bigger group, it’s called a performance team meeting. We have nutritionists, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning, and anyone that is involved with the student athletes from a performance basis. We do have quite regular meetings, but with each team, there are daily meetings. So if there is something like that, they are probably on top of it as well, because they are looking at best practices and how best they can do things, and we communicate well on what are some things this person should or should not do.

From a global perspective, they’re looking at the same things as far as what can we do better what shouldn’t we be doing. How to best lift, and how do we best spot athletes, so they’re doing the same things we are as far as what are the best ways to work with student athletes. There’s a lot of communication that goes on between us. If there was a situation where there was an injury or an accident going on, we evaluate that and how we can prevent it from happening again. Most of the time we’re obviously both operating to the top of our game and as long as we have open communication I think things go pretty well.

LGHL: So let’s say there is an injury to a player at any time, what is the protocol for things like that for your staff?

Calland: Well obviously our athletic training staff for whatever sport, we are there, we are first responders, who are evaluation. If it is something that needs to be 911’d, we will initiate that process. If it is something that is lower extremity, ankle sprain, or whatever, we evaluate. We get them off the field, evaluate what’s the best way to do that, and follow up with our team physicians at the next appropriate time. They may be in attendance, they may not be. They may be at the Ohio State Sports Medical Center.

We do have physicians that stop by daily in all of our athletic training rooms, we have six athlete training rooms within our department. So all of those team physicians are in direct contact throughout the day and evening with those athletic trainers in those facilities and follow up with a team physician as needed and develop a plan from there on what further testing, rehabilitation, return to play timeframes and all of that are discussed.

LGHL: What is the hardest part about your job?

Calland: That’s a good question. I think you have to know going into this position that you are obviously going to have some times when you are not going to be able to pick when practices are and when they’re gonna move a game. So your lifestyle has to be involved in this and you have to buy in. The work life balance is going to be a little out of your control to a certain extent. Other than that, I’ve been doing this a long time it’s a great way to wake up and I feel I have the best job for me and my career and I really enjoy it.