What is an Athletic Trainer?

As student-athletes compete younger and train harder, the need for athletic trainers has grown exponentially. Traditionally, athletic trainers were not known readily. In fact, there is still moderate vagueness concerning what exactly athletic trainers do and who they are. In part, this is what actually makes the athletic trainer a one of a kind medical professional. Athletic trainers are trained in a wide variety of treatment of care and additional domains. The “Trainer” helps prevent and treat injuries, more commonly muscle and bone injuries, not only for young athletes, but also for professional athletes and the weekend warrior.

Providing “appropriate” and quality medical care for high school athletes goes beyond having an ambulance present at football games or student managers handing out ice packs. Interestingly, there is an estimation of about seven million athletes who will participate in school athletics each year. Ironically, only about 42 percent of high schools in the United States employ athletic trainers. Majority of which are only part time employees.

Gwinnett Medical Center and private practices such as Sports Medicine South play a significant role in providing care for local high schools and communities in Gwinnett County.  Eddie Knox, 24 year old athletic trainer, provides care full-time for Mountain View High School while working as a clinician at Sports Medicine South. On Friday Nights, you might seemingly notice him on the sidelines with arms crossed, much like a sentry. On his waist, a medical kit, prepared for any uncanny situation which may arise. Minor bumps or bruises, a fracture, or torn ACL are just some of the injuries he will manage and if he is lucky, he will just enjoy a great game. However, bruised egos are the responsibility of coaches. Coaches, administrators, parents and students are content in their knowledge Mountain View Athletes have a certified athletic trainer at attention for any situation.

Eddie Knox spends anywhere from 40-50 hours a week at Mountain View. His mornings, filled with charts, greetings and evaluations. Eddie usually starts his day around 8:30a.m., where he helps Dr. Gary A. Levengood M.D. and staff with patient care. Whether it is interviewing a patient, performing an evaluation or giving “doc” a quick thirty second run-down, he is helping to make the odds, evens. By late afternoon, he rushes out and leads way up to the high school where he will finish out his day.

Its 2:00 p.m., more than five hours before kickoff and the American-past time of football starts. Upon walking in doors, there is quietness, a focus of attention that could even make a hair rise on a bald head. Eddie Knox walks into his training room and starts his day with addressing coaches and appropriate staff the game plan for tonight’s game and how injuries will be managed. Afterwards, he preps his water solution and starts his first session of treatments. Shortly, more student-athletes pour in to get a quick rub, taping, rehabilitation or even just a “hello”. Soon-after, 4:30 p.m. arrives, and treatment session two is under way. This session includes a pre-game routine consisting of stretching, taping, preventative techniques and bracing. Next, splint bags, emergency equipment, water bottles and athletic training kits are ready to be loaded on the big cheese. Its now, where game mentality sets in and coaches, athletes, athletic trainers and helpers wait patiently for what unfolds at kickoff.

Playing sports especially collision ones is inherently risky. There is an assumption of risk students and parents claim when they sign their name on the list. Athletic Trainers can give the athlete prompt attention and follow with appropriate care. Continuum of care is the key to the athletic trainer role at the high school level or any other adjacent level applicable. Individuals such as Eddie are not only team players, but integral leaders in the communities they serve. They set the example and bleed commitment, dedication and loyalty to their community. The value of an athletic trainer is unparallel. The athletic trainer is the real deal.

For more information regarding the Athletic Trainer, contact the Sports Medicine South Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy Department.