March marks National Athletic Training Month. Studies have shown that schools without athletic trainers have re-injury rates that are about 60% higher than schools that do them.
Only about 40% of schools in our nation actually have athletic trainers, but over 30 million children and teens play some sort of organized sport.
Health and safety in student sports have always been a big concern for parents and schools. Athletic trainers monitor the physical and mental conditions of student-athletes both in and out of season.
I not only sat down with an athletic trainer, but a student and an activity director to discuss how vital they are to our schools.
Sanford Health Athletic Trainer at Mandan High School, Doug Nickels says, “Just nice and relaxed and watching. Making sure he keeps a straight leg here and keeping the hips down.”
Nearly 800,000 children ages 14 and younger are treated for sports-related injuries each year. Athletic Trainers are not only there to help prevent injuries but there to treat them as well.
“You’re ultimately there for the athlete. I know it’s great to win games and stuff like that, but overall you have to look at the athlete’s health,” says Nickels.
I talked to a Mandan High basketball player who tells me he can count on Nickels especially after getting injured himself.
Junior at Mandan High School, Jaxton Wiest says, “Doug was really helpful with that–just being able to diagnose that and giving me stuff to do to help it out. And giving me a time frame and stuff for when to be out and when to start doing stuff again.”
But an athletic trainer doesn’t just benefit students.
Mandan High School Activities Director, Mark Weist says, “It’s made all of our jobs a lot easier especially our coaches now. When someone is hurt right away–they can get ahold of Doug and the situation is taken care of immediately.”
And when it comes to taking care of your body, the benefits of an athletic trainer go beyond high school.
“You really have four years of high school sports and some of them might not go on to play college–so looking at the injury and seeing how it’s going to affect the rest of their life,” says Nickels.
Nickels says some of the most alarming injuries he deals with are concussions and many do come from football.