That title may tick some people off, especially coaches. The title is not calling out all coaches or athletes. There are some coaches who do the right things in doing whats best for the kid over what is best for the team. This is where we as athletic trainers come in. We always have the best interest of the individual over the interest of the team. Of course we want the teams we work for to win, but not at the expense of one athlete’s well being.
This subject came to mind as me and my brother (who is in his last clinical rotation before becoming a DPT, or in other words a physical therapist), were having a conversation about concussions. There was a story he shared of a young man(not a patient at his clinic), who had received a concussion some weeks ago. The young man, who is a high school wrestler, is still suffering from headaches and nausea and vomiting (and I’m sure suffering from other concussion symptoms). The disheartening part of this story is the coaches of this team having been getting on to him for not practicing and showing complete disregard for the well being of this young man. Now I do not know if this school has an athletic trainer or not, but from the facts that I received, I would highly doubt it. Any medical professional with a clue about a concussion would see this athlete is not ready for any kind of physical activity. I would even recommend to the parents and the school that the young man should be at home resting and not stressing his brain during school.
In the case of the young man, the athletic trainer would be protecting the athlete from the coach. But the coach isn’t the only person athletic trainers and other medical professionals who deal with injuries should be protecting the athlete from. Sometimes the athletes worst enemy is themselves. I hear too many times, “Mitch, I’m fine I can go back in!” I quickly explain why I can not let them return whether it be a concussion or some sort of orthopedic injury. I also hear the, “If I have a concussion, I’m not telling you!” This scares me to death and keeps me on high alert and paranoid. With these kids, I explain that I am not trying to hold you out, my goal is to protect them and allow them to play as soon as possible as safely as possible.
As I have moved from the college to the high school level, and as I am currently waiting on my own little one, I have become much more protective and will do whatever it takes to protect them. I think this is the goal of most athletic trainers and other medical professionals.
My charge to parents, demand that your school has an athletic trainer in your school! They are there to protect your child. Athletes, please be truthful and upfront with your athletic trainer as they are only trying to help you! And coaches, care more about the individual than the team. These young men and women look up to you and your actions toward them can have far reaching repercussions.