March is National Athletic Trainers Month. Athletic Trainers are a great asset to a program and can aide in keeping athletes injury free and making sure proper steps are taken once an injury occurs.
Two ways to keep athletes healthy is assessing their activity on an individual basis and communicating with their parents. Here’s advice from Paul LaDuke and Danielle Kleber, two Athletic Trainers, for effectively doing these things:
Assess individual activity.
Assuming that one athlete is going to handle an injury the same as another athlete can be dangerous. “Getting to know an athlete on an individual level is important because not all athletes have the same pain scale,” said Danielle Kleber, ATC—Athlete’s Training Center.
“Knowing an athlete personally will help you recognize an injury in an athlete even if they haven’t come forward to say something,” said Paul LaDuke Head Athletic Trainer—Lower Dauphin School District (Penn). “Understanding how they move will help you spot if something is off. I look for limping or stiffness. There will often be times when an athlete goes to their friends first before admitting to being injured, so watching for groups of kids huddled together is often a giveaway.”
Three things to take note of when looking for an injured athlete:
- Does the athlete’s stride look different?
- Do they look stiff while they’re performing normal movements?
- Do they look like they’re compensating in their movements to avoid pain?
Spotting the signs of injury is important so an injury doesn’t go untreated. The more an athlete compensates for an injury, the more there is a chance of causing injury somewhere else due to a change in movement.
Communicate with parents.
Getting to know the parents is an important way to also get to know the athlete. When you form a close relationship with the parents you can get a better understanding of how the injury will be treated at home.
“I want to communicate to the parent not just what needs to be done, but what’s in the best interest for the athlete,” said LaDuke. “I want to see that athlete play but only when it is safe to do so. Keeping lines of communication open is important. If you want parents to trust you, you have to respect them as a parent.”
When possible,** face to face communication is better than a phone call.** Being confident and transparent with parents is the best way to ensure that they fully understand what type of injury their child has, as well as the severity and treatment necessary. Rather than say “I think your child has a concussion.” Firmly state what the injury is. Staying confident will keep parents confident with your abilities and transparency will keep the conversation open to any questions, which will in turn lead to the best treatment for the athlete’s injury.