Jul 31 2017

Athletic Trainers in an Industrial Setting- Part 1

As an athletic trainer, I get asked about what I do all the time.  In the same breath, I also get told what I do as an athletic trainer.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

So, “You’re an athletic trainer? …. that’s why you work out all the time.”

“You’re an athletic trainer? …. so, you’re responsible for giving football players water.”

Surprisingly, there are still misconceptions of what we do as athletic trainers. We are not personal trainers, but we can help you with function and correct lifting form. We are not water boys.  Although, hydration is important for all athletes therefore we routinely educate teams on being properly hydrated; but athletic trainers have so much more to offer. You can find athletic trainers in a variety of settings such as colleges/universities, secondary schools, clinics and hospitals, professional sports, occupational health, military, and public safety.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association https://www.nata.org/ states athletic trainers are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventive services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, as well as therapeutic intervention & rehabilitation of injuries & medical conditions. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association also states that athletic trainers improve functional outcomes and specialize in patient education to prevent injury or reinjures.

I currently work as an athletic trainer in an emerging setting…Occupational Health and more specific to my job a manufacturing facility. I have been told numerous times that since I work in the occupational setting that I do not deal with athletes therefore, I frequently find myself defending my role and relevance.  So, in that situation, I frequently ask the question: “How do you think traditional athletes and industrial athletes are different?

Chris Pearson http://www.ptonthenet.com/articles/The-Industrial-Athlete-%E2%80%93-Part-1-2101 states the term industrial athlete refers to anyone who makes a living using mental and physical talents to perform jobs that require skill, strength, flexibility, coordination and endurance—just like an athlete.

As a result of kids specializing in one sport, we are seeing a rise in overuse injuries in youth sports but how long have they been occurring in the occupational setting? Let’s think about this in terms of baseball…Kids typically play games two to three days a week and the youth baseball game will likely last an hour and a half to 2 hours; then they practice twice a week for an hour. That’s 9 hours a week of a specific sport for a youth specific sport. Now let’s look at the increased exposure to overuse injuries in the industrial athlete who works 12-hour days for an average of 42 hours per week doing essentially the same thing day in and day out for 208 days out of a year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh.pdf  there were 2.9 billion injuries and illnesses recorded in private industries in 2015.  In 2014, sprains, strains, and tears were the highest nonfatal occupational injuries that led to the most days away from work; soreness/pain was the second highest. These are the same injuries we, as athletic trainers, deal with every day on a sports field.

Over the next few weeks, I will go over how the 5 domains of athletic training fit into the occupational health setting and how we can help employees and employers in this emerging setting.
Beth Goodwin

Athletic Trainer